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ICBC must pay customers hit by privacy breach $15K each, B.C. judge rules

Customers targeted in shooting and arson attacks after ICBC staffer sold their info to criminal gang
A B.C. Supreme Court justice ruled on June 3, 2024 that ICBC must pay customers who were impacted by a 2011 privacy breach $15,000 each in damages. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

B.C. drivers who were targeted in a 2011 privacy breach at ICBC are entitled to $15,000 each in damages from the auto insurer, the B.C. Supreme Court has ruled.

The impacted customers brought a class action lawsuit against ICBC after one of its employees sold the personal information of 79 drivers to a criminal gang for around $25 apiece. Thirteen of the drivers were subsequently targeted by the gang, each reporting arson or shooting attacks on their homes and vehicles between April 2011 and January 2012.

The employee, Candy Elaine Rheaume, later pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining a computer service and received a suspended sentence and nine months’ probation.

In their class action, the targeted customers argued ICBC is also liable for Rheaume’s conduct. Justice Nathan Smith agreed in an August 2022 ruling and, on Monday (June 3), landed on an award of $15,000 per customer.

He stressed in his decision the need for accountability by large organizations at a time when it is common for them to collect and store vast amounts of information on customers.

“The people who provide that information often have no meaningful choice about whether to do so. In this case, anyone in British Columbia who wishes to own or drive a motor vehicle must provide information to ICBC.

“All of that electronically stored information may be easily accessible to many people within an organization and is vulnerable to improper access and misuse. The court must stress the need for protection of that information and make clear there will be consequences for any failure to do so.”

The lawsuit’s plaintiff requested $25,000 per class member, while ICBC argued the amount should be limited to $500, but Smith landed on $15,000 after reviewing similar legal cases.

Any class members who feel they suffered damages beyond what is included in the lawsuit will have to argue it on an individual basis.

In a statement to Black Press Media, ICBC said they take the protection of customer information very seriously. The auto insurer noted that they fired Rheaume after discovering what she had done and that they have since reviewed and updated their privacy processes.

“We are reviewing this recent court decision. As this matter continues through the court process, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

READ ALSO: ICBC liable for customer privacy breach that ended in targeted attacks, court rules

About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

Hi, I'm a provincial reporter with Black Press Media, where I've worked since 2020.
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