The home page for the Ontario Cannabis Store is shown in this photo illustration Toronto Wednesday October 17, 2018. Canada Post publicly admitted to a privacy breach involving thousands of Ontario’s online cannabis customers on Wednesday after the province’s only outlet for legal recreational marijuana notified clients of the problem. THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canada Post admits cannabis privacy breach involving 4,500 Ontario customers

Someone has used Canada Posts delivery-tracking tool to gain access to personal information of 4,500 customers

Canada Post publicly admitted to a privacy breach involving thousands of Ontario’s online cannabis customers on Wednesday after the province’s only outlet for legal recreational marijuana notified clients of the problem.

The postal service said someone had used its delivery-tracking tool to gain access to personal information of 4,500 customers of the Ontario Cannabis Store but declined to identify the data.

“Both organizations have been working closely together since that time to investigate and take immediate action,” Canada Post said in a statement. “As a result, important fixes have been put in place by both organizations to prevent any further unauthorized access to customer information.”

Canada Post notified the online cannabis store on Nov. 1 about the breach, both organizations said.

RELATED: Nova Scotia fixes online workaround of age requirement for cannabis sales

In a statement on Wednesday, the Ontario Cannabis Store said it referred the matter to the province’s privacy commissioner. The statement also said the store had “encouraged” Canada Post to take immediate action to notify its customers.

“To date, Canada Post has not taken action in this regard,” the store said. ”Although Canada Post is making its own determination as to whether notification of customers is required in this instance, the OCS has notified all relevant customers.”

In response, a spokesman for Canada Post said it had explained to the cannabis outlet that it did not have contact information for the pot buyers.

According to the online store, the compromised information included postal codes and the names or initials of the person who accepted delivery of the marijuana.

Other data such as the name of the person who made the order — unless the same person signed for delivery — the actual delivery address or payment information were not affected, the statement said.

Ontario’s privacy commissioner, Brian Beamish, called the breach “unfortunate” but said it appeared the risk to customer data was limited. Beamish praised the cannabis store for notifying people about the breach and going public.

“That level of transparency is good,” Beamish said in an interview.

RELATED: Delivery of cannabis could be impacted by postal strike

Given the vulnerability occurred through Canada Post, Beamish said any further privacy action rested with the federal commissioner, who said through a spokeswoman that his office had been in contact with its provincial counterpart.

“We are also engaging with Canada Post to better understand what occurred and what is being done to mitigate the situation,” spokeswoman Tobi Cohen said.

In answer to an Opposition question Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons the breach was flagged and fixed and would not be repeated.

While marijuana ordered through the Ontario Cannabis Store is legal, privacy concerns are especially acute given the hard line taken by American authorities, who have made it clear Canadians who admit to even historical pot use could be refused entry or deemed inadmissible for life.

“I wouldn’t say I am worried (about this breach) but I am concerned any time my personal information is hacked,” said one customer, who received the email from the cannabis store. “I would prefer you not use my name only because I might like to continue to be admissible to U.S.A.”

According to the store, someone used Canada Post’s tracking tool to access delivery data, and the vulnerability also potentially affected customers of other postal clients.

“The OCS has worked closely with Canada Post to identify the cause of this issue and to prevent any further unauthorized access to customer delivery information,” the store said.

Canada Post said it was confident the individual who accessed the information only shared it with Canada Post and deleted it without distributing further.

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Cannabis store offers sneak preview

With Town of Creston bylaws and approvals now in place, the opening… Continue reading

Council approves Blossom Festival Beer Garden

A request from Casey’s Community House to close 12th Avenue North between… Continue reading

Police deal with personal disputes

Creston RCMP received 48 calls for assistance, many involving personal disputes, from April 9-15.

Fruitvale man identified in fatal zipline accident in Thailand

Spencer Donaldson, 25, was from Fruitvale, B.C., the city’s mayor has confirmed

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

Tony Friesen was working in one of the units of his Penticton building when he heard shots

Foreign national arrested in connection to thefts at YVR

A woman, 60, is being held in police custody as Richmond RCMP investigate

Police pursue pesky porker on Vancouver Island

‘This was allegedly not the pig’s first escape’

Westjet tries again to dismiss proposed class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination

Former flight attendant claims airline broke contractual promise to create harassment-free workplace

Man airlifted to hospital after apparent hunting incident in East Kootenay

The man was in stable condition when he was flown out of Fairmont Hot Springs to a Calgary hospital

Police probe eight fires set at B.C. elementary school

Nanaimo RCMP say fires appear to have been set intentionally

Most Read