Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Article: New law guards consumer privacy

Once again, the Toronto Star is to be applauded for its coverage of PIPEDA. The February 1, 2004 edition had a good article on the topic: New law guards consumer privacy:

"If you are headed to your dentist's office, pharmacy or travel agency, you may be asked to sign a form before you can get service, now that new federal privacy laws are in place.

And in some cases, you may not be able to book an appointment for a family member or have someone pick up a prescription for you without specific permission. The new privacy laws are altering the way many businesses � from pharmacies to dentists, travel agents and even the much-maligned 407 toll road � do business.

'The new law means you just can't go and collect information about people willy-nilly,' says Irwin Fefergrad, registrar with the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario.

Consumers must now be told what information is collected about them, how it is used and why it is collected. Every operation, large and small, from video stores and magazine publishers to charities and accounting firms, will need to get its information management practices in order if it wants to avoid possible court action and fines, in some cases of $10,000. Consent may be written, verbal or implied � meaning that, by using a service, a person consents. However, the person must be given a chance to opt out.

Fefergrad says that will definitely mean some changes in wording and protocols. 'You can't leave personal information on voice mail, for example.' He says people may not be able to make some dental appointments for a family member without their written permission. But he notes dentists already have strong confidentiality rules."

(Once again, there's an otherwise accurate article that suggests that you can be fined for violating consumer privacy. Not a bad message to send people fleeing to privacy lawyers, but the info is still wrong.)

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