Be careful how you use email addresses published on the Internet. Thanks to a 2004 ruling by the then assistant privacy commissioner, a sledge hammer is being applied to small business and individuals who use the Internet to access business leads.
Here is how the Act is being interpreted by the privacy commissioner based on this ruling:
“The name, title, business address and telephone number of an employee of an organization are not protected by PIPEDA, since they are expressly excluded from the definition of personal information contained in the Act. However, an individual’s business email address is personal information under PIPEDA.”
There seems to be no logical justification for this ruling and it has caused conflict, confusion and a lot of legal fees since it was handed down.
The Act is now under review with some changes being proposed to the legislation that do not, however, substantially affect this ludicrous ruling. They simply, in typical government fashion, dig the hole a little deeper by framing the stupidity with exceptions and explanations. The legal profession must be rubbing its hands in anticipation.
Undoubtedly, the APC was attempting to limit SPAM, but without really thinking it through. How did she think she could control these blasts from outside the country? All her ruling did was limit opportunity for legitimate Canadian companies. The bad guys simply moved their mailing offshore.