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Q&A on Potential Breach of Privacy and Data Mining Concerns - VetLaw ™ Online Legal Advice Column

May 28, 2019

Need some legal advice from an expert on veterinary law? Send your question through the VetLaw ™ advice column on the CVMA website (exclusive service for CVMA members) and lawyer, Mr. Doug Jack, LL.B., will provide free general legal advice.

Recently, a CVMA member submitted a question containing potential breach of privacy and data mining concerns. The CVMA believes Mr. Jack’s answer could serve as general information and a reminder for practice owners to closely review agreements they sign with service providers to ensure it contains the necessary provisions compliant with Canadian Data Protection Laws.

Question: Recently, some practice owners in the U.S., who use practice integrated management software (IMS), reported that a third-party contacted their clients directly with discounts and product sales offers. Potential breach of privacy and data mining concerns by the IMS Company was raised by veterinary practices that use this software. Some Canadian veterinary practices also use this IMS, provided by this U.S. Company. Although the company claims to abide by its corporate Data Privacy Values statement, should Canadian practice owners be concerned that the company may be in contravention of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) if the user agreement wording is such that it may allow for their clients’ identifying data to be used and shared as the software company sees fit? The user agreement states: “Individual Information that personally identifies clients or their pets, including financially identifiable information which would allow individual clinics or natural persons to be identified will not be exchanged or sold. Information (including Individual Information) may be exchanged among XXXX (the company), its subsidiaries, affiliates and service providers as needed for business purposes, such as, account administration, customer service, transaction processing, consumer reporting, processing and delivery of account statements, research and analysis, and delivery of products and services.” Should a complaint be lodged in Canada? Could the individual veterinarian/practice owner be held responsible for allowing this to occur?

To read Mr. Jack’s answer, or consult all previously-asked questions, please have your CVMA member log-in information ready and click here. To become a CVMA member please click here.