The Privacy Commissioner’s speech raises several very interesting points concerning the ways in which insurance companies collect, keep, and disclose personal information.
The article mentions PIPEDA which is the acronym for the Personal Information Privacy and Electronic Documents Act. This act helps to keep the personal information and records of Canadians safe and private. It is common in many cases that a person may have to disclose personal information such as their birthdate, home address, and medical history. Companies that collect this data are liable to keep this information private unless authorized by the person to disclose such information. This means that no personal information such as a person’s medical history is to be told to another party unless he/she has given express consent, or a warrant for the information is issued.
There are a lot of grey areas when it comes to dealing with personal information and privacy in a world where so much of this personal information is traded and disclosed everyday. For example, a person wishes to get a car insurance quote online and find the best price. It is likely for that task alone they will have to submit private information to several different websites to receive their personalized insurance quote. The average person has little knowledge of where their information is kept, for how long or what legal rights they may have to get it returned or destroyed.
Following are the four assignment questions, their answers, how they pertain to the speech and how they affect the investigation industry if applicable.
??Define “Modus Operandi” by using an online source and explain what activities an Investigator might perform to collect data.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Modus Operandi simply as a “method of procedure”.(Merriam &Merriam, 2018) It’s translation from Latin would mean mode of operation. Essentially the way that a task is performed consistently to produce the best outcome for each attempt. A method of procedure in a kitchen might be that all new employees must start washing dishes. The Modus Operandi of an investigator could be the particular way they collect information that may vary from company to company but will be taught as a baseline. In the speech the Commissioner uses the term to relay that they urge insurance companies to carefully evaluate the Modus Operandi of an investigator to be sure the methods are lawful and do not breach privacy of the target. For example, a young investigator, in his contract says that he will follow the target and the targets family even if they are not related to the case for the sake of gathering as much evidence as is possible. Insurance companies are being asked to be cautious of this because it can easily become a case where third parties become involved where they shouldn’t be.
What does the author suggest constitutes “fishing” and is this acceptable?
The term fishing as it is used in the speech is describing the way an investigator collects information that he/she has not been asked to collect. This information can be used to defame or incriminate somebody in a way that is not pertinent to the case. An example of fishing would be if an investigator was asked to follow a suspect for insurance fraud and passively collected information to incriminate the suspect as a poor father to defame him in the case. However, the suspect may be guilty of that claim, since it does not relate directly to the case it should be avoided in the collection process and must not be used as evidence in court. Any information “being requested needs to be very clearly spelled out.” (Mckay,2008), so as to avoid the unnecessary collection or fishing of information. It is for this reason that fishing is unacceptable, because it can be used to unfairly represent the defendant and is also an invasion of that person’s privacy. In some cases where it may be difficult to avoid the collection of irrelevant information, maximum effort must be used to ensure that information does not become public and is accurately represented to the client.
What is covert surveillance? Does the Privacy Commissioner feel that covert surveillance is an acceptable activity? If it is acceptable, when can an investigator use covert surveillance?
It is up to the investiagator to follow the relevant privacy act in any region the are conducting investigations in. This means staying abreast of the regulations and laws in place to protect the right to privacy of every citizen. Particularly in cases where covert surveillance is necessary. The Privacy Commissioner General believes that covert surveillance should be used only when “less privacy-invasive methods” (Mckay, 2008) have not been successful. This means that if open-source information or information collected with other reasonable means does not accomplish the needs of the client, it may be necessary. The commissioner also mentions that covert surveillance should only be used in more serious cases, concerning fraud and the like wherein the client may be suffering considerable damage as a result of the suspected offender. It is important for investigators who do covertly monitor private persons that they do so with caution and attempt to be as non-invasive as possible. Similar to the concepts concerning the use of force the use of covert surveillance should be limited to the most essential action required to obtain the goal. The right to privacy in Canada is nothing to be taken lightly and should be obeyed and respected by a good investigator regardless of the methods they use to obtain information for their clients.
4) What are some of the” Consent Issues” that Insurance Companies face that are mentioned in the speech?
Some of the issues involving consent mentioned in the speech include a corporation that was requesting consent to freely collect personal information that was beyond necessary. The complainant stated she was required to sign an “internal standard consent form “(Mckay, 2008), giving more access to the woman’s information than she felt comfortable with. In this situation, had the woman not scrutinized the form as she had, and an investigation was conducted on her, she would have no legal grounds to dispute any information collected and used against her. Another issue raised in the speech was with the dissemination of information to third parties by insurance companies. Under PIPEDA any company is responsible to not “disclose personal information for purposes other than those which it has identified purposes for and received consent for.” (PrivacySense.net,2016) The speech mentions a situation where a complainant’s medical history was given to their employer by their insurance provider. The complainant has the right to decide to which parties, if any, their personal information may be shared. This is also true for an investigator, if while collecting information on a target they discover something that is not considered open-source of publicly available, they must be very cautious in retaining and securing the information. Then, the investigator is responsible to ensure the information is transferred to the appropriate parties and destroyed when necessary.
In conclusion the speech makes many very good suggestions for the insurance companies, and investigators working on behalf of them. The suggestions let these companies know how to behave when working with the personal information of Canadian citizens, who without question have a fundamental right to keep their private information secure.