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BC Court Rules on Signing Away Your Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

Posted August 27, 2014 by Michael Geist

Canadian privacy law has long been reliant on the principle of “reasonable expectation of privacy.”  The principle is particularly important with respect to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as the Supreme Court of Canada has held that the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure is grounded in a reasonable expectation of privacy in a free and democratic society.

The reasonable expectation of privacy standard provides a useful starting point for analysis, but the danger is that privacy rights can seemingly be lost with little more than a contractual provision indicating that the user has no privacy. Indeed, if privacy rights can disappear based on a sentence in a contract that few take the time to read (much less assess whether they are comfortable with), those rights stand on very shaky ground.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the limits of the reasonable expectation of privacy standard emerged in a recent British Columbia Court of Appeal case involving the search of a courier package that contained illegal drugs. The court rejected claims of an illegal search, concluding that the defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy despite the fact that he had no commercial relationship with the courier company and had never agreed to, or even viewed, the terms of the contract.

The post BC Court Rules on Signing Away Your Reasonable Expectation of Privacy appeared first on Michael Geist.

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General

From Cell Towers to Credit Card Data: Telecom Privacy Case Reveals Scope of Police Demands for Subscriber Information

Posted August 14, 2014 by Michael Geist

Last month, media reports covered a recently released Ontario court decision involving a Peel Regional Police warrant application for subscriber data from Telus and Rogers. The two telecom companies challenged the order, arguing that it was overbroad. The police withdrew the order in favour of a more limited request, but the court decided that the Charter issues raised by the request should still be examined.

The money quote from the judge – “the privacy rights of the tens of thousands of cell phone users is of obvious importance” – captured the attention, but the case is more interesting for the data it provides on police warrant applications for subscriber data. The case reveals that Telus received approximately 2,500 production orders and general warrants in 2013, while Rogers produced 13,800 files in response to production orders and search warrants that year.

Even more interesting is how the police were seeking access to a huge amount of subscriber information by asking for all records involving dozens of cell phone towers, including subscriber data, billing information, bank data, and credit card information.  The specifics as described by the court:

The post From Cell Towers to Credit Card Data: Telecom Privacy Case Reveals Scope of Police Demands for Subscriber Information appeared first on Michael Geist.

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Big Brother

The End of Facebook at Politics, Re-Spun

Posted June 28, 2014 by Stephen Elliott-Buckley

Hello! Welcome to the post-Facebook Politics, Re-Spun website! You will not find a Like/Recommend button at all anymore. Anywhere. We’ve even stripped it from the ShareThis ribbon. We’re so nasty! :) Why? Because Facebook is the devil. And Big Brother. And a menace to social networking. They spent most of the last decade encouraging people […]

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