Privacy Commissioner launches immediate investigation into secret background checks on jurors



    TORONTO, June 10 /CNW/ - Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner,
Dr. Ann Cavoukian, launched an investigation today into whether the privacy
rights of prospective jurors were breached when police used confidential
databases to selectively probe the background of potential jurors, on behalf
of certain Crown Attorneys.
    "We have been closely monitoring developments since the first media
reports about such potential abuses of personal information," said the
Commissioner. "Initially, the Attorney General advised that this practice was
restricted to one courthouse in Simcoe County. Since then, we have learned
that the practice extends to at least one other courthouse, and possibly
others. As a result, we will be conducting our own investigation into this
matter. The focus of our investigation will be whether this was a proper use
of police databases and whether the privacy rights of potential jurors have
been compromised. What type of personal information was collected, why was it
collected, under what authority was it collected, to whom was it disclosed,
what security provisions were extended to any subsequent uses or disclosures,
and how widespread is this practice throughout the justice system? We will
determine whether any provisions of Ontario's three privacy laws, the Freedom
of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Municipal Freedom of
Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and the Personal Health Information
Protection Act, were breached."
    The Commissioner's office has had brief discussions with the Ministry of
the Attorney General since the first media reports appeared. The IPC privacy
investigation will not only include the Ministry of the Attorney General, but
will also extend to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional
Services, which is responsible for the Ontario Provincial Police.
    The Information and Privacy Commissioner is appointed by and reports to
the Ontario Legislative Assembly, and is independent of the government of the
day. The Commissioner's mandate includes overseeing the access and privacy
provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the
Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, as well as the
Personal Health Information Protection Act, and helping to educate the public
about access and privacy issues.






For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Bob Spence, Communications
Co-ordinator, Direct line: (416) 326-3939, Cell phone: (416) 873-9746, Toll
free: 1-800-387-0073, bob.spence@ipc.on.ca


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