Canada’s privacy watchdog has warned marijuana buyers to pay with cash rather than plastic to avoid breach of privacy of personal information, according to an article in the Financial Post.
The article hinted that authorities could use financial information of customers to determine whether they are marijuana users.
Marijuana sellers and buyers need to understand their privacy rights and obligations, Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien said.
Cannabis is illegal in most jurisdictions outside of Canada. The personal information of cannabis users is therefore very sensitive,” Therrien said.
This information could even lead to some individuals being denied entry into countries where marijuana is still illegal.
Some Canadians have recently been banned from entering the United States after have admitted to buying and using cannabis legally in Canada.
Therrien suggested buyers can avoid the collection of their personal information by using cash instead of credit cards when buying pot from legal retail outlets, the article said.
However they may not be possible if Canadians don’t have access to retail store which accepts cash and have to buy online instead.
According to the article, The Ontario Cannabis Store has already reported a privacy breach through Canada Post that affected approximately 4,500 individuals last month. Information from about two percent of customer orders was accessed by a person using a delivery-tracking tool by Canada Post. The incident was reported to Ontario’s privacy commissioner.
Aside from legally proving that they are old enough to buy cannabis, customers need not provide any other personal information to cannabis stores, according to experts.
Similarly, video surveillance in pot shops should only be used if less privacy intrusive measures cannot be met, Therrien said. If retailers do use video surveillance, they must notify individuals with signage clearly visible to anyone before entering the store.
Cannabis retail stores should only collect email addresses of its customers for memberships or mailing lists and avoid collecting customer names and addresses, the privacy commissioner added.
While it may be easier to use your card, it could be better for your privacy if you use cash for all marijuana related transactions.