Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Federal Court orders Privacy Commissioner to investigate American company

Yesterday, the Federal Court of Canada released what is an important decision related to the jurisdiction of the Federal Privacy Commissioner to investigate organizations outside of Canada, but are trafficking in the personal information of Canadians. Phillipa Lawson, of the University of Ontario, filed a complaint against Abika.com after she ordered, paid for and obtained her own personal information from the information broker. She then complained to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada under PIPEDA. The Commissioner declined to investigate saying that the legislation does not extend to investigating organizations located only in the United States.

Phillipa Lawson sought judicial review of the decision not to investigate and the Federal Court agreed. It concluded that the Privacy Commissioner confused her power to investigate with the effectiveness of the investigation. (Abika refused to participate in the investigation.)

The conclusion of the decision says it all: "In conclusion, PIPEDA gives the Privacy Commissioner jurisdiction to investigate complaints relating to the transborder flow of personal information."

Thanks to Michael Geist for the link.

For additional background, see here.

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