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ONTARIO'S PRIVACY COMMISSIONER RELEASES SPECIAL REPORT

Source: PX NewFflash

Posted on November 26, 2003

      Ontario's information and privacy commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, has released a special report which states that privacy issues can have a dramatic impact not only on a company's financial fortunes, but can also affect directors personally.

      "A significant privacy breach could lead to unwanted publicity and additional scrutiny of you and your organization," Cavoukian writes in the report. Damage to an organization's reputation and brand may also cause long-term damage to its financial health, she says.

      Companies and directors also risk prosecution for violation of privacy laws and real harm to customers, the report says. Yet despite the potentially devastating consequences, many directors don't realize their fiduciary duty extends beyond governance and financial auditing issues, it adds.

      "I have found a surprising lack of awareness that this also extends to privacy protection. "Privacy violations have become especially important in the age of global connectivity and instant communications, the report states.

      Among her recommendations, the commissioner says one person in a company should be designated with ensuring privacy policies are adhered to.

      She also said privacy concerns have to be integral to a company's business, and directors must ensure they ask the right questions of senior management. They include finding out whether sensitive personal information is properly protected and that customers and clients understand why the data is collected and how it's used.

      "Research has shown that consumers are becoming increasingly concerned, better informed and more demanding with regard to the protection of their personal privacy," said Cavoukian, who added that a business can gain a competitive advantage with sound privacy policies.

      "Personal information must be protected, and more companies are starting to realize it is in their own best interest to do so."




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