Federal Privacy Commissioner and Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioner to investigate Winners and HomeSense data breach

    OTTAWA, Jan. 31 /CNW Telbec/ - The Privacy Commissioner of Canada,
Jennifer Stoddart, and the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta,
Frank Work, will jointly investigate how the database of TJX Companies Inc.
was breached, and how it affects Canadians who shopped at Winners Merchants
Inc. and HomeSense, which are owned by parent company TJX.
    "I am profoundly concerned about incidents of this nature that put at
risk individuals' personal information," said Ms. Stoddart. "I look forward to
once again working with Commissioner Work and his Office on a joint
investigation, and to identifying corrective measures to ensure this kind of
major privacy breach does not reoccur."
    The federal Commissioner decided to launch an investigation of TJX to
ascertain whether there has been a contravention of the Personal Information
Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). She will also investigate
Winners and HomeSense following a complaint recently received by her Office.
    The breach allegedly exposed the personal information of Canadian
consumers of these retailers to unauthorized access and the company has
provided "Customer Alerts" on its Web sites. However, after numerous calls
from concerned Albertans, Alberta's Information and Privacy Commissioner
decided to investigate the personal information collection practices of the
two retailers under the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). Mr. Work's
investigation will focus on the Alberta outlets of Winners Merchants
    Both offices will work together with the company to remedy the situation.
The investigation will include, for example, a close look at the collection of
personal information and whether appropriate security safeguards are in place
to protect consumers against unauthorized access, use and disclosure of
personal information.
    Alberta Commissioner, Frank Work, is concerned about the kind of
information and the length of time it is held. "Some of the information that
was breached dates back to 2003, and I would like to know the reasons why the
company feels it has retained sensitive customer information for that long. I
also want to know what kind of information is collected."
    Since privacy breaches can potentially expose individuals to problems
such as identity theft, Canadians are encouraged to visit the Web sites of the
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Office of the Information
and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta for tips on how to safeguard their
personal information.

For further information:

For further information: Wayne Wood, Communications Director, Alberta
Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, (780) 427-4132,
wwood@oipc.ab.ca; Anne-Marie Hayden, Director, Public Education and
Communications, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, (613) 995-0103,

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