Ontario privacy boss orders customer data deleted

The city of Ottawa and its police force must stop collecting data on individuals selling second-hand goods and destroy the records they now have, Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian ordered Wednesday.

The city of Ottawa and its police force muststop collecting data on individuals sellingsecond-hand goods and destroythe records they now have, Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukianordered Wednesday.

"The routine collection of personally identifiable information from those who have committed no offence goes beyond the constitutional compromise that permits intrusive action by the police in the context of criminal law investigations," she said in a release.

"In the interests of liberty, we must draw the line at the potential surveillance of law-abiding citizens by the state and firmly say 'No' to any unnecessary intrusions on our privacy."

'Grave infringement'

Cavoukian saidher order was the first use of a cease collection and destroyrecords provision in Ontario's privacy laws. The order was based on"the compelling privacy issues at stake in this case," as well as an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling this summeron a similar issue, she said.

The database "constitutes a grave infringement to the privacy rights of individuals" because the police do not have to get a warrant or demonstrate suspected criminal violations to access the information.

Ottawa may have been targeting sellersofstolen goods, but among the 44,000 people in the database, "it is clear that the vast majority are innocent, law-abiding citizens who have committed no offence," Cavoukian said.

She issued the order following a complaint made to her office after a July Ontario Court of Appeal ruling, which struck down part of an Oshawa bylaw that required second-hand retailers to collect personal information from people selling them goods.

Business Watch International of Regina developed software that second-handstores can use to send detailed personal information to the company, which maintains a database on behalf of the Ottawa police.

Cavoukian said her office willrelease guidelineswithin two weeks for municipalitiesthat want to regulate thesale of second-hand goods.

In a separate development,the federal privacy commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, saidon Tuesday that many of the streetscapesGoogle is making available on the Internet could break Canada's privacy laws.

Google's Street View service, showing street-level imagery from certain U.S. cities, isn't yet available in Canada.

Stoddart wrote to Google and Immersive Media of Calgary, which helped develop the technology.

"I am concerned that, if the Street View application were deployed in Canada, it might not comply with our federal privacy legislation," she said.