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  • – 2017-12-08 –

    The Supreme Court of Canada issued its long-awaited decisions in R v Marakah, 2017 SCC 59 and R v Jones, 2017 SCC 60 today, issuing a strong statement on the protection of privacy in digital contexts. The decision held that text messages continue to enjoy constitutional protection even after they are received by their intended recipient, meaning the state cannot bypass constitutional protections simply by directing its search to the recipient's cell phone, social media account or service provider. As CIPPIC argued in its interventions [Marakah, Jones], the decisions being appealed adopted a formalistic approach to concepts such as 'control' and 'access' which apply robustly in the physical world (who controls the data at the time of access, from what location is the data accessed) but have minimal bearing on privacy expectations in digital spaces. By contrast, the majority of the Supreme Court adopted a broad analysis of the privacy interests at stake, with outgoing Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin emphasizing the choice of a private conversation medium (i.e. text messaging) as driving the privacy analysis, concluding that "... privacy in electronic conversations is worthy of constitutional protection. That protection should not be lightly denied." Indeed, as McLachlin, CJ, explains on behalf of the majority in Marakah, the choice of a private messaging medium is, in and of itself, an exercise of effective control, underpinning privacy expectations in electronic messages that extend to their recipient. The choice to engage in a private electronic conversation creates a context where the sender can reasonably expect the messages to remain secure against the eyes of the state.

    Image Credit: Matt Karp, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0, May 7, 2010, Flickr

  • – 2017-12-06 –

    CIPPIC has been granted leave to intervene in Her Majesty the Queen in Right of British Columbia v. Philip Morris International, Inc., SCC No. 37524. The case involves the defendant's pre-trial discovery of the health-related databases of B.C. in the province's action against for recovery of the health care costs to the province caused by Philip Morris' tobacco products. CIPPIC's intervention will address (1) privacy and the risks of re-identification, (2) the need for those affected by government decisions based on large dataset to be able to challenge the data itself and to test (and contest) the algorithms used to arrive at its analyses, and (3) how to balance privacy with accountability in this context.

    The case raises important issues about the right to challenge the outcomes of analytics performed on large data sets. As governments increase their reliance on big data and algorithmic decision-making technologies, privacy and government accountability will be increasingly at issue and, at times, at odds.

  • – 2017-11-29 –

    CIPPIC Director David Fewer was joined by his co-counsel Professor Marina Pavlovic and Professor Jeremy de Beer to provide the Supreme Court of Canada with argument in its intervention in Haaretz.com, et al. v. Mitchell Goldhar, Professor de Beer did an excellent job addressing CIPPIC's argument, which focused on access to justice, forum shopping concerns, and technological neutrality.

    Students Lora Hamilton and CIPPIC intern Adam Soliman provided CIPPIC with outstanding support throughout the intervention, and were able to attend the hearing.  Great job, team!

  • – 2017-11-28 –

     

    On Giving Tuesday (November 28), charitable contributions to CIPPIC will be matched 50¢ to the dollar to a $500 max per donor for the first $150,000 donated to the University of Ottawa. Give to CIPPIC and help protect your digital rights and freedoms in Canada!

     

     

     

  • – 2017-11-15 –

    NAFTA MapCIPPIC has joined international copyright law experts calling for NAFTA and other trade negotiators to support a set of balanced copyright principles. In "The Washington Principles on Copyright Balance in Trade Agreements", the experts urge trade negotiators to support policies like fair dealing, safe harbor provisions, and other exceptions and limitations that permit and encourage access to knowledge, flourishing creativity, and innovation.

    Signers lay out the following copyright principles to ensure consumers’ digital rights:

    • Protect and promote copyright balance, including fair dealing
    • Provide technology-enabling exceptions, such as for search engines and text- and data-mining
    • Require safe harbor provisions to protect online platforms from users’ infringement
    • Ensure legitimate exceptions for anti-circumvention, such as documentary filmmaking, cybersecurity research, and allowing assistive reading technologies for the blind
    • Adhere to existing multilateral commitments on copyright term
    • Guarantee proportionality and due process in copyright enforcement

    Read the text:

  • – 2017-11-02 –

    CIPPIC contributed to Citizen Lab's submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Dubravka Šimonović, who is seeking best practices for addressing technology-facilitated violence, harassment and abuse against women. The submission highlights the need to acknowledge the real-world harms that flow from technology-facilitated abuse—harms which are too often disregarded or trivialized. The atmosphere created by such abusive conduct operates at to exclude women and girls from critical digital spaces, can have professional consequences and can leverage technical capabilities to wage long-ranging and persistent harassment campaigns. Often, technology-facilitated abuse does not, however, fall neatly within existing causes of action or criminal prohibition, which poses a challenge for those seeking to leverage legal powers to find relief from such abuse. The online platforms on which technology-facilitated abuse too often plays out present an equally challenging landscape for women and girls facing online abuse. Voluntary mechanisms adopted by these platforms to address online abuse are opaque, highly inconsistent, and continue to fail those who attempt to rely on them. Other private actors compound technology-facilitated abuse of women by actively feeding a robust commercial stalkerware market that facilitates violent and harassing conduct and allows for pervasive surveillance of women by abusive partners. Citizen Lab's submission can be read at: https://citizenlab.ca/2017/11/submission-un-special-rapporteur-violence-women-causes-consequences/

  • – 2017-10-30 –

    CIPPIC today filed with global Affairs Canada its comments on the resumption of negotiations over the Trans Pacific Partnership. The withdrawal of the United States from the TPP offers an opportunity to improve the agreement and address some of the more problematic provisions of the previously-concluded trade agreement. CIPPIC's Comments focus on:

    • process & transparency;
    • problems with the Investor State Dispute Mechanism (ISDS);
    • digital trade and privacy issues; and
    • balance in the intellectual property provisions.

    11/07/2017 UPDATE: In response to reports that some TPP-11 states were considering freezing several provisions of the TPPA, including problematic provisions on data localization, cross-border privacy and ISDS, CIPPIC submitted a followup letter to the Honorouable François-Philippe Champagne, the Minister of International Trade, calling on Canada to support a freeze of these provisions in APEC meetings taking place this week. As the letter points out, all of these provisions were concessions to the United States and have not been shown to benefit Canada in any way. As the United States is no longer a party to the TPP, the provisions should not be included in any finalized version of that agreement.

    Image Credit: Jason Garber, CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0, May 2, 2006, Flickr

  • – 2017-10-23 –

    CIPPIC has helped organize letters from over 40 prominent individuals and organizations supporting Chelsea Manning's legal team in its bid to reverse her refusal of entry into Canada. As CIPPIC points out in its own letter of support, the whistleblowing activities which formed the basis for Ms Manning's sentence in the United States have been integral to debates surrounding many matters of public interest—including a casual disregard for civilian life in the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars and a program of extra-judicial assassination targeting senior Taliban and Al-Qaeda officials. These disclosures could not be shown to have caused any direct damage, and Ms Manning's sentence for her crime of conscience has since been commuted by former US President Barack Obama. Refusing Ms Manning entry into Canada on the basis of her conduct is an injustice that should be reversed. The campaign was spearheaded by independent researcher Lex Gill. CIPPIC's letter can be read here: https://cippic.ca/uploads/20171012-LT_GoC_re_Chelsea_Manning.pdf

    Image credit: CC-BY 2.0, Jackie: Flickr

  • – 2017-09-29 –

    CIPPIC's submissions to the Copyright Board's consultations on Options for Reform focuses on five key reforms: 

    • adopt shorter timeframes;
    • implement case management;
    • implement a streamlined evidentiary process;
    • extend tariff length to 5 years and eliminate tariff retroactivity; and
    • allow for interveners in tariff proceedings.

    CIPPIC suggests that, regardless of the specific approach to reform ultimately adopted by the Board, addressing these five issues would create for greater certainty in the marketplace, improve the efficacy of decision-making, and make tariff proceedings quicker, less wasteful, and less costly.

  • – 2017-09-14 –

    CIPPIC has filed its factum in Haaretz v Goldhar, an online defamation matter before the Supreme Court of Canada addressing the question of jurisdiction for online expression accessible over the internet in Canada.  CIPPIC's factum focuses on the role access to justice and forum shopping considerations play in judicial decisions on jurisdiction.  Professor Jeremy de Beer and Marina Pavlovic crafted our argument.