Kudos to Canada’s Privacy Commissioner. His persuasive powers helped protect Canadians’ privacy around the world. On June 15, 2015, the Globe and Mail reported that the Commissioner’s office was able to persuade the owners of a Romanian website that republishes international court decisions to delete personal information about more than two dozen Canadian litigants (https://secure.globeadvisor.com/servlet/ArticleNews/story/gam/20150615/RBCDPRIVACY). While CanLII does not allow court decisions to be indexed, the Romanian website Globe24h, does allow Google and other search engines to scan its contents and include them in search results. The result: the private details of Canadians in divorce and other proceedings come up when their names are searched.
While Canada’s privacy laws do not apply in Romania, according to the Globe article, the Privacy Commissioner was able to persuade the owners of the site to take down the court documents at issue “in almost all instances”.
This case is highlighted in The 2014 Annual Report to Parliament on the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act released last week by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC). According to the Globe article, the Privacy Commissioner highlighted this case in order to inform Canadians that the OPC can help resolve these kinds of problems.
While Canadian court decisions are public, the digital era has made it far easier for decisions – and the personal information they contain – to be found. Canadians can take some comfort in knowing that the OPC is willing to use its powers of persuasion to help reduce the risk of their private information being broadly disseminated.