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

Forestry workers set to begin job action in Kootenays

Operations in Castlegar, Cranbrook, Galloway, Elko, Radium, Golden may see job action this week.

Road trip comes to end with split for Grand Forks Border Bruins

The team is coming off its longest road trip this season.

Grand Forks to receive business recovery funds post-flood

The community will receive two Rural Dividends grants for a total of $655,000.

Grand Forks high school students remember

The school and the Legion joined for the annual Remembrance Day ceremony.

Letter: English town remembers Grand Forks on anniversary of Armistice

Phillip Morris writes from Shrewsbury, England.

Six students arrested, charged in sex assault probe at Toronto all-boys school

The school’s principal, Greg Reeves, described the video of the alleged sexual assault as ‘horrific’

Deportation averted for Putin critic who feared return to Russia

Elena Musikhina, a vocal critic of the Kremlin, has been granted a two-year visitor’s permit in Canada

B.C. to allow Uber-style ride hailing services to operate in late 2019

Fee will be applied to fund options for disabled people

Auditor general takes aim at Liberals’ fighter-jet plan

Suditor general Michael Ferguson is about to release a new report on Canada’s attempts to buy new fighter jets

B.C. couple converts ambulance into a traveling home

The Revelstoke couple plan on touring B.C. ski hills then driving to Mexico

Cyclist defecates, throws own poop at car following B.C. crash

Man defecates in the street before throwing it at a driver locked in her vehicle

Jamie Koe, other curlers kicked out of bonspiel for being too drunk

‘You don’t kick around other players’ bags, it’s disrespectful and we expect better of our players’

Homicide victim found under B.C. bridge identified as Hells Angels member

Chad John Wilson was one of four men arrested in Spain in 2013 on allegations of smuggling cocaine.

B.C. Sikh temple vandalized with racist graffiti

Racist graffiti was found on the side of the building this morning

Most Read