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Canada Dashboard Digest | Notes from the IAPP Canada Managing Director, August 6, 2021 Related reading: Notes from the IAPP Canada Managing Director, July 30, 2021



Are you a privacy pro who works in the health sector? If so, you should definitely read the article below about the Alberta commissioner’s report on their investigation of the Babylon by TELUS Health application. In fact, you may want to read the entire report, though I’m warning you, it’s quite long (around 80 pages). 

The delivery of health care is definitely changing. Probably even faster due to the pandemic. Virtual settings are replacing the old-fashioned visit to the doctor’s office. Many of these initiatives can make health care more accessible and efficient. However, the rapid pace at which some of these technologies are evolving has me a bit worried that privacy is not always being given the attention it deserves.

It’s important to highlight the TELUS app did many things correctly. But, in the commissioner’s opinion, it also did a number of things badly and they’ve been given six months to implement the recommendations made in the report.

One operational thing the app does is try to prevent fraud. To do this, it verifies the end user’s identity by requiring them to scan government-issued identification and then take a selfie. The algorithm then does a verification check that the person who took the selfie is the person on the government-issued identification. This was seen as being unreasonable by the regulator.

I’m not so sure. What do you think?

In any event, the report has a ton of takeaways so you may want to read it to learn more about the Alberta commissioner’s perspective on these things. One of the things it highlights for me is privacy isn’t ever cut-and-dry. There are a lot of grey areas, and this is particularly the case when you examine whether something is “reasonable.” What is supposed to be a way to bring objective analysis to the privacy issue is often more subjective than we’d like.

The good thing is we continue to innovate, we have the necessary privacy debates, we’re always learning as the situation evolves and we try to ensure both better health care and good privacy. So easy, right? Privacy pros, we have our work cut out for us, that’s for sure!


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