The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Developments in privacy law and writings of a Canadian privacy lawyer, containing information related to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (aka PIPEDA) and other Canadian and international laws.

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The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.

For full contact information and a brief bio, please see David's profile.

Please note that I am only able to provide legal advice to clients. I am not able to provide free legal advice. Any unsolicited information sent to David Fraser cannot be considered to be solicitor-client privileged.

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The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Incident: Faxes about American patients accidentally sent to Canadian company ... for 15 months 

Most Canadians with any interest in privacy are well aware of the very high-profile CIBC faxing fiasco that resulted in hundreds of confidential faxes being sent from dozens of bank branches to one particular junk yard in the United States. When the story broke, it was front-page news and continued making headlines for weeks. It has even spawned a class action lawsuit against the bank, alleging that the failure to notify the indivuduals concerned caused them increased risk of identity theft.

Now there's a similar story coming from the US about hundreds of faxes being accidentally sent to a Canadian manufacturer of herbal remedies. According to Computerworld, a large number of people have trying to send Prudential Financial Inc.'s insurance arm faxes containing confidential patient information. Unfortunately, hundreds went to a company called North Regent RX in Manitoba, Canada. The two toll-free fax numbers only differ by one digit. This is likely to be labeled outrageous, but compounding the situation is that it apparently has gone unchecked for fifteen months.

The company apparently notified Prudential in October 2004 but months passed without any response. Now, Prudential is reported to say that that it is not their problem. They have no responsibility for others who incorrectly fax information. That may be true, but I am sure Prudential will face a storm of criticism asking what it did to protect its customers' information. The Manitoba company offered to sell its toll-free fax number of Prudential, which declined. They simply asked that misdirected faxes be mailed to Prudential as they came in. North Regent had intially contacted the senders, but quickly found they did not have the time and resources to continue to do so.

Legally, Prudential may have no responsibility for the misdirected faxes, but it will still face criticism that might have been avoided had they simply bought the fax number.

Check out Computerworld for the full story: Confidential patient data sent to wrong company -- for 15 months - Computerworld.

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