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Unlisted address appears on electronic directory

PIPEDA Case Summary #2003-138

[Principle 4.3 of Schedule 1]


An individual complained when a telecommunications company published her address, which she had requested not be listed in the telephone directory.

Summary of Investigation

The telecommunications company admitted that, in an attempt to correct a programming error that had originally caused unlisted and listed addresses to be unavailable to directory assistance, the organization that maintained the site created a file for directory purposes that included all of the addresses, but did not verify with customers whether they had requested an unlisted address or not. As a result, addresses that were supposed to be unlisted appeared on the electronic directory, which is accessible through the company's Web site, as well as its regional Web sites.

When informed of the error, the company informed the complainant that it was aware of the problem and that it would take corrective measures. In the meantime, the company offered to remove the complainant's address from her listing. It did so, and corrected the other listings as well.

Commissioner's Findings

Issued March 6, 2003

Jurisdiction: As of January 1, 2001, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (the Act) applies to any federal work, undertaking, or business. The Commissioner had jurisdiction in this case because a telecommunications company is a federal work, undertaking, or business as defined in the Act.

Application: Principle 4.3 states that the knowledge and consent of the individual are required for the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information, except where inappropriate.

As it was clear and undisputed that the company had disclosed the complainant's personal information without her consent, the Commissioner found the company in contravention of Principle 4.3.

He therefore found the complaint to be well-founded.

Further Considerations

The Commissioner was pleased that the company had removed the complainant's unlisted address and that it had updated the directory to ensure that erroneous listings were corrected.

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