Alberta’s Information and Privacy Commissioner has applied for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada from the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision in Leon’s Furniture v. The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta. In the case, a majority of the Court of Appeal held that an organization’s methods of collecting personal information must only be reasonable and need not be the least intrusive method.
The case arose due to Leon’s policy of collecting driver’s license and license plate information from customers who accept delivery of merchandise after they pay for it. The Privacy Commissioner held that the policy was unlawful under Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) since organizations must implement the least intrusive policies possible. The Court of Appeal found the Commissioner’s interpretation of the PIPA incorrect, holding that as long as the business is being conducted reasonably, it does not matter that there might also be other less intrusive ways of conducting the business. It further stated that the “reasonableness” standard imposed under Section 11 of the PIPA only requires organizations to collect personal information to the extent it is reasonable for meeting the purposes for which the information is collected, and “[i]t is not open to the [Commissioner] to change “reasonableness” to either “necessity”, “minimal intrusion”, or “best practices”. These are not interpretations that are available given the plain wording of the statue.”
The Privacy Commissioner argues that the Court of Appeal’s decision allows businesses to circumvent the PIPA. In addition, he argues that the decision is inconsistent with the laws of British Columbia and Canada, and makes Albertans a target for fraud.