When the 10th Circuit upheld a ruling against U.S.-based Accusearch over the sale of telephone records on its Abika.com web site (discussed here), that was not its only problem. On July 31, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada ruled that Accusearch also violates key provisions of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), by its collection, use and disclosure of the personal information of residents of Canada:
Based largely on information provided by the FTC, the investigation determined that the American company disclosed the personal information of Canadians, without their knowledge or consent, to third parties. The Assistant Privacy Commissioner concluded that such actions contravene the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, which governs private-sector companies.
Moreover, the Assistant Commissioner found that Abika.com typically accepts and fulfils requests for personal information without considering whether the request is for an appropriate purpose. In some cases, in fact, the company knowingly turned over the personal information of Canadians for purposes that a reasonable person would consider highly inappropriate in almost any circumstances.
A third element of the complaint, relating to the accuracy of the personal information that was disclosed about the complainant in a prepared “psychological profile”, was dismissed on the grounds of insufficient proof. The Assistant Commissioner did, however, underscore her suspicions that much of the psychological profile was highly questionable and inaccurate.
The Assistant Commissioner has recommended that Abika.com stop collecting, using and disclosing the personal information of people living in Canada without their knowledge and consent. The company did not provide a substantive response to the recommendations within the timelines set by the Assistant Commissioner. It was not considered reasonable in the circumstances to grant a request from American counsel representing Abika.com for a further time extension.