Wine club suspends orders after LCBO privacy dispute

An Ontario wine club has suspended service to its members after a dispute with the province's liquor control board about handing over its members' personal information.

Holiday orders won't be processed, club says

The LCBO says its personal information policies have been in place for decades. (Canadian Press)

An Ontario wine club has suspended service to its members after a dispute with the province's Liquor Control Board over handing over its members' personal information.

The Toronto-based Vin de Garde wine club told its thousands of members the LCBO recently began asking for personal information, including names, addresses, phone numbers and exact quantities ordered for each of its members.

LCBO's personal information policy

  • You do not have to provide us with any personal information when you purchase products at one of our stores (except for ID if you're 25 or under).
  • You will be required to provide personal information where products are ordered online, through our catalogues or through our specialty services department in order to process these transactions.

The policy requiring the release of personal information has been around for decades, the LCBO has said. It is in place to prevent illegal re-sale and to contact consumers in case of a recall.

But Vin de Garde president Warren Porter said the club operated for eight years without having to provide the information.

"We just didn't think it was right to be releasing data at the barrel of a gun," said Porter.

"I know that inside of our privacy policy we likely have the right to [release data] as required by law but then it gets into a sticking point: is it law or is it simply a policy or a demand? So we thought it was just best to say, 'let's stop until we have an answer here,'" he added.

The club has filed a complaint with the office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario and Porter said he expects the commissioner to deliver a non-binding recommendation by Dec. 13.

That date will be too late to fill orders in time for Christmas, said Porter, who estimates purchases during the holiday season account for about 20 per cent of his business.