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

Carey Price brings young fan to tears after surprising him at NHL Awards banquet

Anderson Whitehead first met his hockey idol after his mother died of cancer

“It’s something you’re called to do”: Cullen reflects on time as MP

For Nathan Cullen, it’s not goodbye, it’s farewell.

Local artist Sesyaz Saunders’ art on display at YVR

Saunders worked with renowned artist Robert Davidson on a large panel

Scorpion gives birth after hitching ride in B.C. woman’s luggage

A Vancouver woman inadvertently brought the animal home from a trip to Cuba

B.C. teen killed by falling tree near Victoria

Second youth also injured in freak incident during field trip at Camp Barnard near Sooke

Commercial fishers in B.C. now required to wear life-jackets on deck: WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC reports 24 work-related deaths in the commercial fishing industry between 2007 and 2018

Beekeeping Rossland boy finds human kindness sweet as honey

Family overwhelmed by kind offerings of strangers

B.C. files second legal challenge against Alberta over turn-off-taps law

B.C. government filed a second lawsuit against Alberta on June 14

Tax credits, penalizing big polluters, key to Conservative climate plan

Canada’s commitment is to cut emissions to 70 per cent of what they were in 2005 before 2030

Victoria double murder trial: Blood splatter analyst found no shoe prints on scene

RCMP analyst testifies to smears, fingermarks, ‘swipe and wipe’ patterns around apartment

Elias Pettersson wins Calder Trophy as NHL’s top rookie

Vancouver forward first Canuck to win award since Pavel Bure in 1992

FVRD chair calls B.C. incineration plan for Philippines waste ‘disturbing’

Metro Vancouver ‘uniquely capable’ of safely disposing of waste coming back to Canada, say officials

Most Read