Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Article: New privacy sprouts forest of complaints

Today's Toronto Star has a very interesting article that highlights something that I have been trying to emphasizes to my clients for some time: the most important thing that a business must do to comply with PIPEDA and to avoid complaints is to communicate with its customers. Principle 2, from the CSA Model Code, requires a business to take reasonable steps to bring to an individual's attention the purpose for which information is being collected. This communication forms the foundation for the "knowledge and consent" that are required under "Principle 3 - Consent". Many commentators emphasize that PIPEDA is about consent, but this consent has to be based on the identification of purposes. If you tell you customers what you propose to do, there won't be any uncertainty or confusion and, therefore, the business is much less likely to get a complaint. - New privacy sprouts forest of complaints:
"Canada's privacy watchdog says a 'communications gap' forming between businesses and consumers may be partly to blame for an increase in complaints since new federal privacy legislation went into full force on Jan. 1.

The law requires businesses, large and small, to put systems in place that will make sure customer information is secure, accurate, gathered with consent and not used beyond a stated purpose.

Heather Black, assistant federal privacy commissioner, said Canadians are taking advantage of their newfound privacy rights but many businesses, when asked to explain how and why they collect and use customer information, aren't providing adequate answers.

'When people ask why they're being asked for this information, they're not getting very satisfactory responses,' said Black. 'So it really is a communications gap.'

The commission began noticing this trend in January, specifically in the retail sector. Black said a number of people have filed complaints against certain retail outlets that require customers to provide their names, phone numbers and addresses when goods are returned for refund or exchange."

Full article ...

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