Privacy Issues Front & Center this week

Security- image via Vectors Market (the noun project)

Security- image via Vectors Market (the noun project)

TWO articles today highlight the need to treat personal data with care.

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/08/23/hospital-snoopers-to-be-sentenced-in-toronto-court.html

https://www.thestar.com/business/2016/08/23/ashley-madisons-data-security-was-inadequate-privacy-officials-say.html

  1. Ontario Hospital workers face ‘stiffer’** penalties for again spilling patient information; they sold New Mom’s hospital records to a firm pitching Registered Education Savings Plans (an iffy ‘savings’ vehicle at best of times, given how the tax system treats them and the ‘varied’ morals of firms pitching them). Prosecuted in Ontario- penalties included house arrest, community service, probation, fines.
  2.  Questionable data ‘security’ practises at Ashley Madison’: eg iffy accuracy of security logos shown, iffy data security precautions, holding onto ‘unsubscribed’ member data, apparently to leverage further fees for the privilege of leaving this dubious service. Prosecuted in USA- final penalties TBD.

In both cases, customer data was easily compromised. This is the second recent  breach by Ontario Hospitals staffers, raising questions whether adequate penalties exist for those with the privilege & burden to hold customer data. Canada is home to global telemarketing firms, online gambling sites, weight loss & nutraceutical sellers who play fast & loose with claim substantiation, charities that enrich the charity’s administrators. Many firms locate here due to weak investigation staffing and weak penalties for those who are caught. When was the last time White Collar crime in Canada resulted in actual jail time?

**Ontario’s government recently signaled more support to the Ontario Security Commission, more teeth to prosecute breaches & enforce data privacy. Justice Caldwell’s penalties in this case are less wimpy than what has sadly become the norm here (eg just fines, for the Rob Ford case). Stronger signals indeed, but more is needed! (perhaps stiffer federal standards, Mr Prime Minister?).

Despite Canada’s reputation as an ‘equal’ society, folks committing ‘white collar’ crime rarely face a weighty deterrent. Some Canuck fraudsters (a certain newspaper mogul?) are prosecuted only after their crime affects American victims. On behalf of customers whose data is ‘out there’ in trust, Thanks to the USA for having the guts & the will to give teeth to white collar standards of conduct. The USA is hampered by some frivolous 1 on 1 litigation & class action suits, but they don’t shield ‘upper class’ criminals from jail. America knows ‘nonviolent’ crime does harm individuals and undermine trust in customer-based organizations.

SL

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