Toronto mayor creates petition, nudges health ministry into doing something about privacy invasion

Last year, about 6 million Ontario women received a digital record of their last menstrual cycle. The target: fewer errors with seasonal reproductive health testing, better estimates of fertility potential and a simple tool for most women to check when they should or shouldn’t begin.

And it’s not only a tool used by doctors and pharmacists. Back in October, the Ontario Provincial Police began handing out COVID-19 devices to anyone under 21 who needed them.

And now, the OPPS hack. Brian Masse, the mayor of London, Ont., brought them down last week after reading about them on Twitter and becoming curious. “The idea that you just go out and pick up a piece of paper and come in and check your cycle online is terrifying,” he told CBC News. “I was alarmed that anybody could just pop in the room and snap a photo without anyone knowing.”

And some people in this world didn’t think it was such a good idea. Masse, who opposes online dating, gets tagged in photos and messages by women who found Masse’s profile, he said, and he wanted to know why. After his blog post prompted a chain of events that eventually forced the provincial ministry of health to recall the COVID-19s, Masse contacted the clerk of the legislature to ask if he could file a formal complaint.

New Democrat MPP Monte McNaughton, in a public letter, said he was “outraged” and so was P.K. Subban, the NHL superstar who is now with the Nashville Predators. Subban accused Masse of asking a woman what was on her next period, and then retweeted hundreds of similar messages and messages calling for his pay to be cut. A screenshot of the latter Twitter hashtag, which drew about 380,000 retweets, helped help spark more coverage.

But that didn’t stop Masse from trying again.

This time, Masse used a Google Doc to compile and present a letter for the public to sign, saying that he wants the government to suspend the sale of “offensive and invasive tools” that “threaten the right to privacy.”

Last week, Dr. Kitty Callaghan, the ministry’s deputy minister of health, informed Masse that his request was “alarmingly invasive” and she hasn’t seen a violation of privacy because of a lack of information at this point.

Masse has not heard back from the government, so maybe he can still try to prod it into action. This column is being updated with the latest news.

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