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.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Trend to privacy seen as hurting research 

An article in the September 24, 2008 National Post cites a new journal article that concludes that privacy laws are hampering important health research. I haven't read the journal article yet, but plan to. While this argument is not new, I don't agree with the conclusions. I have served on Research Ethics Boards and on a special privacy committees of an REB and I haven't seen that happen.

One researcher is quoted as saying that health research should be exempted from privacy laws, which is, in my view, a very bad idea. Perhaps some tweaking is called for, but a blanket exemption would be a very bad idea and may lead to a backlash against research using identifiable personal information.

Trend to privacy seen as hurting research

Many scientists deprived access to patient data

Tom Blackwell , National Post

Published: Wednesday, September 24, 2008

As Canadians place more and more emphasis on safeguarding personal privacy, the trend is taking an inadvertent toll on medical research, often impeding access to intimate but crucial health information, scientists are warning.

Privacy laws not only make public-health studies more time-consuming and costly, they can also significantly skew research results, argue University of British Columbia epidemiologists in a recent journal article.

"I think it's something that everyone should consider because good research is basically how we make advances in public health," said Anne Harris, lead author of the paper. "We need to be able to trust the results we get."

The paper in the Canadian Journal of Public Health suggests that medical research be exempted in some way from privacy rules.

A leading Ontario scientist echoed the B. C. group's concerns: "A lot of the advances we have had in the past might not happen because of privacy legislation and the way it's interpreted," said Dr. Jack Tu, a cardiac health researcher with a University of Toronto-affiliated institute.

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