Unauthorized Secondary Use Claim To Proceed, Unauthorized Retention Claim Dismissed

On May 12th, the British Columbia Supreme Court allowed a novel privacy class action to proceed.

While most civil privacy claims relate to claims of improper disclosure, the plaintiffs here objected to the unauthorized retention and use of personal information – specifically, the retention of newborn blood samples for medical purposes and (secondary) research purposes that were not disclosed at the time of collection. The Court held that liability for the secondary use was a genuine issue for trial.

The Court rejected the plaintiffs’ claim that rested on the alleged unauthorized long term retention of samples for medical purposes, a practice the plaintiffs claimed created a “fully functional DNA database.” The Court held that authorization to retain for medical purposes was not in doubt given the plaintiffs consented to collection for medical purposes and, at the time, did not raise any concerns about retention for the same purposes.

D. (L.) (Guardian ad litem of) v. Provincial Health Services Authority, 2011 BCSC 628 (CanLII).

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