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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo)
Alberta records 410 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).
Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

Sharon Hickin, general manager of the Days Inn Sylvan Lake and the new Lake House Diner, poses for a photo outside the new restaurant. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
Pandemic puts extra hurdles in place for new Sylvan Lake businesses

Over the past seven months numerous new businesses have opened in Sylvan Lake, despite the pandemic

Sylvan Lake Wranglers. File Photo
Sylvan Lake Wranglers ready for shorten hockey season

The HJHL will have a 20 game season, playing four games in a cohort and then going dark for 14 days

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Husky Energy logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Husky pipeline spills 900,000 litres of produced water in northwestern Alberta

The energy regulator says environmental contractors are at the site

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

file photo
Maskwacis RCMP investigate pedestrian fatality

Collision on Highway 2A causing fatality still under investigation.

Rachel Notley, leader of Alberta’s official Opposition, speaks in Edmonton on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Notley says the government needs to sharply ramp up the number of contact tracers if it wants to get a handle on the rising number of COVID-19 cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Opposition calls for more COVID-19 contact tracers as case numbers rise

Alberta has about 800 tracers, and chief medical health officer Dr. Hinshaw says more are being recruited

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. Hospital and health-care workers who staged a one-day illegal walkout returned to work Tuesday while politicians swapped recriminations and accusations in the house over the dispute. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta health staff return to work, surgeries resume after one-day walkout

AHS estimated 157 non-emergency surgeries, most of them in Edmonton, had to be postponed as a result of the walkout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to provide an update on the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Canada has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first was reported

Cases in Ponoka (East Ponoka County) as of Oct. 27. (alberta.ca)
Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 at three Ponoka businesses

Town ‘strongly encouraging’ residents to wear non-medical masks in public

Most Read