Saturday, August 14, 2010

Federal Commissioner settles ID-swiping dispute

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada just recently announced a settlement has been reached in its application to the Federal Court to stop Canad Corporation of Manitoba from ID-swiping patrons of its nightclubs. This followed an investigation by the OPC that recommended the practice be terminated and that the data collected be destroyed. Canad refused to follow the OPC's advice, so the Commissioner commenced an application to the Court to have the matter dealt with there.

Here's the summary from the Commissioner's site.

Recent Court Activity

Settlement between the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and Canad Corporation of Manitoba Ltd.

Legal Update

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has reached a settlement with the Canad Corporation of Manitoba Ltd (Canad Inns), a hotel chain that operates a number of night clubs in Manitoba. This settlement follows legal proceedings stemming from an investigation into the collection of personal information of bar patrons using a machine that copies and stores personal information appearing on the front of an identification card such as a driver’s licence.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s investigation was prompted by a complaint from a Canad Inns customer who objected to having her licence information scanned.

The Privacy Commissioner’s office understood Canad Inns’ need to effectively verify the age of its patrons and to ensure an appropriate level of security in its night clubs. In addition to the identification machines, Canad Inns also used video surveillance, metal detectors, pat downs, security personnel and lists of banned people in order to secure the safety of patrons.

The investigation ultimately concluded that the machines collected more information than was necessary for those stated purposes and that the information collected was being retained for too long.

Canad Inns disagreed with recommendations to stop using the machines and to remove the personal information already collected by them.

As a result, the Privacy Commissioner filed a notice of application before the Federal Court to enforce the recommendations.

Following court-ordered mediation in early 2009, the Court gave Canad Inns a period of time to determine feasible means to limit the personal information it collects.

As part of the settlement between Canad Inns and the Privacy Commissioner, the company has made commitments to:

  • Stop collecting personal information at its night clubs via its identification machines;
  • Destroy the personal information collected with the machines; and
  • Limit the amount of personal information found on its list of barred people and ensure that this information is adequately secured.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is pleased that Canad Inns has agreed to take steps to ensure that the privacy rights of its patrons are respected.

The Privacy Commissioner has agreed that it would not be unreasonable for Canad Inns to collect limited personal information (names, dates of birth and photos) from bar patrons and to retain that personal information for 24 hours. This is a similar approach to that taken in both British Columbia and Alberta, where provincial privacy commissioners have investigated similar issues.

A case summary of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s investigation is also available at:

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