Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ontario Commissioner issues unprecedented order against used goods vendors databases

In an apparently unprecedented move, the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Ontario, Ann Cavoukian, has issued a cease and desist order and an order to destroy personal information related to the collection of personal information from people who sell second hand goods to resellers. This follows a battles in the Ontario courts, where the Commissioner's position was ultimately upheld by the Court of Appeal (See: Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Oshawa second-hand store bylaw invades privacy). For more info from the Commissioner's office, see: Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian issues seminal Order to cease collecting detailed personal information from individuals selling used goods, and to destroy all existing records.

I think this is a very important move on the part of the Commissioner.

We are seeing a growing trend in Canada that forces some serious thought about privacy. Private businesses are increasingly being conscripted to collect information on behalf of law enforcement or for law enforcement purposes. For example, money laundering legislation, no-fly lists operated by airlines, "lawful access" and databases of used goods sellers. Meanwhile, the Privacy Commissioners and privacy advocates are taking a stronger stand against this. We've seen various statements and submissions to legislative committees, unanimous declarations against the no-fly list and now the exercise of dramatic coersive powers. It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out.

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