An alarming number of Alberta organizations are accidentally exposing people's private information, the provincial privacy commissioner said Tuesday.

Since May 2010, when it became mandatory in Alberta to report privacy breaches of personal information, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has received more than 90 such notifications.

"My staff has been stretched to the limit dealing with these numbers," Commissioner Frank Work said in a statement.

The commission said most of the breaches were due to human error, such as mailing or faxing files to the wrong address or phone number.

Other breaches arose from lost or stolen computers, memory cards or storage discs. Only a minority of data leaks came from computer glitches or hackers, the commission said.  

The commission can order a company to inform the people whose personal data was breached. In 65 per cent of cases where an organization reported a privacy rupture, it had already started informing affected people, the commission said.

Alberta is the first province in Canada that requires notification of privacy breaches of all personal information, not just health matters. The law makes it mandatory where there's a risk of significant harm.


  • Alberta is the first province in Canada to require notification of privacy breaches of all personal information, not just health matters. Ontario has had mandatory notification of health-info breaches since 2004.
    Aug 25, 2011 8:30 AM MT