Compliance Management, Privacy

Health Canada in cannabis security breach

Health Canada sent the private information of two individuals to a Toronto resident inadvertently last month in a security gaffe.

33-year-old Kyle Andrews, a user of medical marijuana, had contacted the government department asking for guidelines on the suggested use of the drug. Health Canada sent him the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations in the mail, but mistakenly included two other documents in the envelope. They contained private information on other Canadian residents who also used cannabis for medical reasons.

One of the documents included the medical condition of the individual concerned. Both documents contained names, addresses, phone numbers and birth dates of the Canadian residents.

Andrews, disconcerted over the security error, called Health Canada to report the problem. The service failed to call him back for two days.

“We inadvertently sent documents to you that you should not have received from us," said a representative for the service in a phone call with Andrews, before pleading with him to send the information back in a self-addressed envelope that it promised to send to him. “Health Canada takes our responsibility to safeguard personal information quite seriously, and this shouldn't have occurred."

The representative told Andrews that Health Canada needed to recover the information from the public domain. “It's already in the public domain," he said in an 11-minute conversation posted to YouTube. “I am the public."

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