Records release ruled out

    The Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) does not have to hand over the detailed health-care records of millions of people requested by Philip Morris International, according to a story by Catharine Tunney for CBC News reporting on a decision by Canada’s top court.
    Tunney said that a unanimous Supreme Court decision on Friday morning had cleared a hurdle in the province’s quest to sue cigarette companies for billions of dollars in health-care costs.
    Writing for the court, Justice Russell Brown found the health care databases PMI wanted contained information about individuals whose privacy the province was obligated to protect.
    The ruling is the latest chapter in BC’s legal fight to force cigarette makers such as PMI to compensate the province for the cost of treating tobacco-related illnesses, a battle that started in the late 1990s.
    PMI had argued it needed unfettered access to individuals’ health data to defend itself in court.
    The province’s lawyers argued that releasing individuals’ health information – even anonymously – could violate privacy laws.