Alberta privacy commissioner launches investigations into Telus Health’s Babylon app

The commissioner is investigating the app’s compliance with Alberta’s privacy laws


The privacy commissioner of Alberta has launched investigations into the Babylon by Telus Health virtual healthcare app.

Privacy commissioner Jill Clayton launched the investigations after concerns were identified in two separate privacy impact assessments (PIA) that a Calgary-based physician and Babylon Health Canada Limited had submitted for the app.

Babylon is a free healthcare app that lets users check their symptoms, consult with doctors and access their health records.

“No one is required to use Babylon by Telus Health. 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 in a press release.

This comes after the government of Alberta itself had encouraged people to use the app and its virtual health services.

The commissioner’s office usually addresses concerns laid out in a privacy impact assessment before deciding whether it will be accepted, but the app was launched before she could make a decision.

“Since the app is already in use and compliance concerns were identified during the PIA review, the Commissioner decided to open an investigation on her own motion under section 84(1)(a) of HIA into the Calgary-based physician’s use of the app,” the news release states.

By doing so, the commissioner is provided with more powers under section 8 of the Health Information Act. 

A separate investigation is going to determine whether the company is complying with the Personal Information Protect Act, which is Alberta’s private sector privacy law.

The commissioner’s office states that since these investigations are active, it can not provide any further details. The office notes that there isn’t a known timeline for these investigations.

MobileSyrup has reached out to Telus Health for a comment.

Source: Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta 

Update 23/04/20 10:20am ET: Telus Health has provided MobileSyrup with the following comment: “Protecting patient data is the cornerstone of our healthcare business. 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.”