Commissioner Seeks Leave to Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada from Alberta Court of Appeal Ruling

June 1, 2011

Information and Privacy Commissioner Frank Work has filed an Application for Leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada from a recent ruling of the Alberta Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal overturned a decision of the Commissioner’s Office related to the collection of personal information by Leon’s Furniture Ltd. There was a strong dissenting opinion.

Commissioner Work says the decision of the majority Court of Appeal seriously undermines the Personal Information Protection Act. “The decision could be used to challenge what were thought to be reasonable, nationally accepted limits on the collection of personal information by private sector organizations. We are moving backwards”.

Work adds, “This decision means that businesses can circumvent the intention of the legislation, and can decide, entirely on their own, what personal information they can collect. This puts our law at odds with laws in other jurisdictions such as British Columbia and Canada. It means that we are off side with the rest of Canada on the meaning of personal information, and that puts the people of Alberta at a disadvantage.”

The Commissioner believes the Court of Appeal ruling creates a dangerous precedent. “As we have seen from recent data breaches involving Sony and Honda along with Best Buy and Air Miles, personal information databases are a lucrative target for fraudsters. To the extent that this decision permits the overzealous and unregulated collection of Albertans’ personal information, it presents them a tempting target and means the consequences of a loss could be more severe. The stakes in this case are vital and significant for the privacy rights of Albertans and Canadians.”