Saturday, June 09, 2007

Privacy commissioner sights hazards of wireless technology

Privacy commissioner sights hazards of wireless technology
CanWest News Service
Published: Thursday, June 07, 2007

TORONTO -- Ontario's information and privacy commissioner is urging all health-care providers to do an immediate check of their video surveillance systems following two bizarre incidents at a methadone clinic in Sudbury.

On two separate occasions, cars either parked nearby, or driving by the clinic, have picked up the image of a client using the facility's washroom on its wireless camera system, which is designed to aid the driver in backing up.

Following an incident in April, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, the province's privacy commissioner, asked the clinic to turn off its in-house camera system.

The clinic complied and even replaced the wireless system with one that is hardwired.

Stressing the incidents highlight the hazards of using wireless technology when handling personal information, the commissioner is reminding all health information workers that wireless technology poses a risk to privacy.

Dr. Cavoukian said that because there is a limited number of frequency bands available for transmission, the potential for intercepting video images and other wireless information relating to an individual poses a significant threat to privacy.

"Health information custodians who use video surveillance," said the commissioner, "should either use a wired video surveillance system, which inherently prevents interception, or a wireless one with appropriate measures, such as strong encryption, to preclude unauthorized access. Nothing short of this will be acceptable."