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Prisoners fear drug violence from alleged medical data breach

“Prescription drugs have significant value and are in high demand”
B.C. prisoners allege privacy violations involving their personal medical information on food service carts could lead to violence over drugs

Some 50 federal prisoners in B.C. allege putting their personal medical information on food service carts could lead to violence over drugs, a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme says.

The prisoners are suing the Attorney General of Canada asserting the breach of their private information including whether or not they use opioid replacements or participate in a needle exchange program puts them at risk.

They say in the July 21 claim that the information along with other medical and dietary information was posted where kitchen staff, inmate kitchen workers and correctional staff and inmates housed in Mission Institution unit could access and read it.

“Given that prescription drugs have significant value and are in high demand
For . . . recreational use and trade by may (sic) inmates in federal correctional institutions, including Mission Institution, the plaintiffs were acutely aware, and feared, that other inmates who read the notices might attempt to obtain their medication, whether through theft, violence, or the threat of violence.”

The claim said prisoners did receive an undated letter in August 2020 apologized for the privacy breach.

“’We acknowledge that CSC (Correctional Service of Canada) has a responsibility to protect personal information from unauthorized disclosure and will ensure appropriate measure are taken to prevent a reoccurrence,’” the claim quotes the letter.

The suit claims the defendant should have known posting the data was a privacy violation and seeks various damages. 

Justice Canada referred Glacier Media requests to CSC, which confirmed it had received the claim and is reviewing it.

“Correctional Service Canada is committed to ensuring the privacy of offenders is respected in compliance with existing laws, policies and guidelines,” spokesperson Isabelle Robitaille said. “Any breach of an offender's personal information is taken seriously and is subject to reporting under CSC's Guidelines for Privacy Breaches.

 The claims have not been tested in court.

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