Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian has issued a 16-page order, with an extensive set of guidelines, and a fact sheet on responsible video surveillance following her inquiry into what appears to be a gross breach of privacy involving a clinic in Sudbury.
In the incident that occurred a couple of months ago, a video image of a woman providing a urine sample at a washroom in a methadone clinic in Sudbury, Ont. was accidentally intercepted by a backup camera in a vehicle that was driving by the clinic.
The contentious issue wasn’t the presence of a surveillance camera in the washroom – as this was a methadone clinic, and patients apparently gave written consent to being monitored while providing urine samples.
The crux of the investigation, rather, related to the clinic’s use of an unsecured wireless surveillance system that was open to being – and was in fact – intercepted.
In an interview with IT World Canada, Cavoukian indicated the clinic couldn’t provide a satisfactory explanation of why it was using an unsecured wireless video surveillance system – save to say the system was installed by a provider who had been recommended to them by the Sudbury police.
“My sense is [they asked] very few questions of the service provider.”
Cavoukian said it was clear the clinic wasn’t aware their wireless video surveillance system was not secure and that signals from the system could be intercepted.
“I don’t expect that level of tech expertise on the part of healthcare providers,” the Privacy Commissioner said. “But it’s got to be incumbent on people who provide this technology to tell their customers how insecure such wireless surveillance systems can be.”
She said the reason for the order and the fact sheet issued by her office was to ensure that healthcare facilities and vendors of surveillance systems understand very clearly what is expected of them from a privacy perspective.
“In the order we’ve gone to great lengths to explain everything, to set the standard for how things should be in Ontario, and to ensure healthcare facilities here are aware of what’s required and ask the right sort of questions from their [technology] service providers.”
Last month, following the incident at the Sudbury clinic, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) issued a communiqu