Privacy czar rules speed-dating company wrong to give out woman’s email

by Tim Cook

EDMONTON – Alberta’s privacy commissioner has ordered a speed-dating company to tighten its training after a woman complained her email address was given to a smitten suitor she wasn’t interested in.

In a seven-page ruling released Thursday, the commissioner’s office detailed how the unnamed woman attended a speed-dating event organized by FastLife International.

The dating service brings as many as a dozen romantic hopefuls together briefly. They are each asked afterwards whether anyone caught their interest. If two people pick each other, contact details are shared through the company.

The privacy commissioner’s report says the woman didn’t pick anyone after the event she attended. But a few days later, two emails appeared in her inbox from a man who was there. The man said he had obtained her email from FastLife, so the woman complained to the commissioner. An investigation began in December 2011.

Adjudicator Keri Ridley ruled the lapse was due to human error. The man was not originally registered to participate and when his details were later entered into the company’s system, he was mistakenly matched with the woman.

“Based on this explanation and on the information before me, the organization did make reasonable security arrangements,” Ridley wrote. “I do not have evidence that this is a widespread problem. It is not reasonable to expect an organization to be able to protect against all human error.”

Ridley did, however, order FastLife to make sure employees are more aware of privacy laws.

“The organization is to ensure that it does not disclose personal information that it is not authorized to disclose by ensuring that its employees are made aware of the organization’s obligations under the act,” her order reads.

She has given the company 50 days to comply.

No one from FastLife was immediately available to comment, but a spokesman indicated he would be available for an interview at some point Thursday.

FastLife bills itself on its website as the world’s largest speed-dating service with 200-plus events each month.

A clause in the privacy policy posted on fastlife.ca does leave open the possibility that human error could lead to the inadvertent release of a person’s contact information.

“All FastLife hosts are under instructions to double-check all match data before completing the data entry process and are aware that entering match data incorrectly is cause for instant dismissal. However, very rarely, it is possible that a mistake is made when entering match data,” the policy reads.

“It is therefore a condition of attending a FastLife event that you agree to hold FastLife harmless in the unlikely event that your contact information is passed to a person you did not select at an event.”

Diane McLeod-McKay, director of Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act, said people need to read privacy policies and make sure they understand how companies use their information.

“A single email address may not be that serious, but it could be depending on the circumstances,” she said. “My email address, for example, if it was given to somebody that I didn’t want to have my email address, I might think that is a problem.”




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Privacy czar rules speed-dating company wrong to give out woman’s email

  1. There’s a pretty simple solution to this problem – If someone is using this type of service maybe they should set up a separate email account. If you get email from people you aren’t interested in, block them.

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