LCBO puts cork in wine club orders after privacy ruling
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario said Tuesday it is temporarily suspending new wine club orders after the province's privacy commissioner ordered it to stop gathering personal information from wine club members.
Ann Cavoukian issued a ruling Friday ordering the LCBO to stop gathering the information and destroy any data collected from clubs so far, following a complaint lodged last year by the Toronto-based Vin de Garde wine club.
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The club, which has thousands of members including hundreds in the Ottawa area, suspended operations last year over what it called a breach of its members privacy.
The club complained after the LCBO began demanding that it supply individual members' names, addresses and phone numbers along with each order.
Previously the club submitted bulk orders on behalf of numerous clients. The club's president, Warren Porter, says the LCBO refused to fill orders unless the club complied.
LCBO has until May 28 to prove compliance
"Our members' information wound up being displayed both to the LCBO as well as to wine agents, to delivery companies, all the way down the line, so it became a very significant breach, we thought," said Porter.
"We didn't think the LCBO had the right to our members' private information, and subsequently their consumption habits," he said.
The LCBO argued its policy had been in place for decades and a spokesperson said the LCBO asked for club members' personal information to prevent illegal re-sale, and to contact consumers in case of a recall.
But Cavoukian ruled the LCBO was only able to provide "anecdotal or hypothetical evidence" to support its position and that the collection of the personal information was not necessary.
The LCBO has until May 28 to prove it has followed through with the privacy commisioner's order.
LCBO spokeswoman Heather McGregor wrote in a statement the board did not collect data to monitor consumption and said it was necessary for a number of reasons: "to deter fraudulent sales, to establish clear legal authority for a transaction, and to ensure consumers can be contacted in the event of a product safety recall.
"We received the Commissioner's decision on Friday and are taking the necessary time to carefully review it and consider our next steps," wrote McGregor.
"During this time, we are temporarily suspending new wine club orders. Individuals will still be able to order products on their own behalf at any time through LCBO Private Ordering."