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Telus Babylon Health-Care App to Be Investigated by Alberta’s Privacy Commissioner

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Telus Health’s Babylon virtual health-care app is being investigated by Alberta’s privacy commissioner amid growing concerns over privacy compliance, the Calgary Herald is reporting. In a news release, Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton has discouraged the app’s use while the investigations are ongoing.

Babylon

“No one is required to use Babylon by Telus Health,” Clayton said in the news release which noted that the concerns arose from two privacy impact assessments (PIA) reviewed by her office i.e. one submitted in May 2019 by Babylon Health Canada Ltd., and one submitted by a Calgary-area physician.

First of the two investigations will address “compliance concerns” with the app while the second one will investigate whether the app is adhering to Alberta’s private-sector privacy law.

“I encourage physicians or patients with concerns about this app to remain opted out of using it while my office reviews the app’s compliance with Alberta’s privacy laws,” said Clayton.

NDP health critic David Shepherd, who called for a privacy investigation into Babylon in March, said he was pleased to see one started.

“I welcome the investigation. It’s good to see that the commissioner is indeed doing good work and good diligence on the part of the people of Alberta,” he said.

Clayton may issue a public report at the end of the investigations, although there is no timeline for when the investigation is expected to conclude.

Telus said they were confident of the privacy requirements inside the Babylon app and welcomed the investigation.

“Protecting patient data is the cornerstone of our health-care business,” said a spokeswoman, adding, “Both Telus and Babylon welcome the opportunity to clarify the strength of our privacy program for Babylon by Telus Health, and look forward to working collaboratively with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta to supply the additional information requested to showcase that we are meeting or exceeding the privacy requirements.”

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