• - 2018-07-04 -

    We've filed our Memorandum of Fact and Law in our intervention in Cooperstock v. UnitedFCA File No A-262-17, in the Federal Court of Appeal.  Focusing on trade-mark, CIPPIC argue that interpretation of the Trade-marks Act must be grounded in its nexus to trade and its intrinsic balance of competing interests.  These interests include consumer protection, free competition, and freedom of expression.

    Update:  Also filed: the CCLA intervention, focusing on the copyright aspects of the case.

  • - 2018-06-28 -

    CIPPIC joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and European Digital Rights (EDRi) in spearheading a submission (signed by 10 additional NGOs) which calls on the Council of Europe (CoE) to ensure privacy and other human rights safeguards are not left behind in its rush to develop new mechanisms for law enforcement to access data hosted in other jurisdictions. The submission injects our concerns into rapidly evolving negotiations between Canada, the United States, and several European and other states, for a treaty protocol that would govern cross-border data access amongst signatories.

    The submission notes several concerns with the direction the negotiations have taken. Current proposals seek to bypass critical vetting mechanisms embedded in the current regime that screen foreign data access requests for blatant human rights violations. The rationale for removing this vetting mechanism is a presumption that signatory parties share an understanding of human rights protections yet, as the submission documents, no such shared basis exists. For example, Canada and some European states have faced significant liability for their roles in facilitating various United States counter-terror efforts which ultimately resulted in illegal rendition and even torture of various individuals in violation of their own human rights obligations. (p 28) Disagreements between signatories over the appropriate use of automated decision-making in a variety of circumstances has led to additional violations of states' human rights obligations while resulting in serious detrimental impact on those most vulnerable (pp 26). The treaty, as proposed, will also permit law enforcement to bypass core domestic privacy protections simply because data is stored abroad allowing Canadian police, for example, to bypass critical protections for anonymous online activity simply because data is stored abroad. This race to sacrifice human rights protections occurs despite the fact that the current regime for cross-border access (which, admittedly, is not responsive enough to law enforcement's needs) can be dramatically improved with greater training and resource investment.

    Image Credit: Max Pixel, CC-0

  • - 2018-06-19 -

    Tech Reset Canada, the Digital Justice Lab, and the Centre for Digital Rights have launched a petition calling for a national conversation about digital rights and human rights. CIPPIC has offered its support to the petition along with other members of Canada’s civil society advocating for Canadians’ digital rights.

    The petition calls on:

    the federal government to convene this national conversation and to respond with a strategy for Canadian digital rights. Such a strategy must include a public education campaign and a consultation process on digital rights, technology ethics, equitable access to the Internet, and the ways these issues impact our quality of life, the governance of our economy, and the safety of our democracy.

    Sign the petition:

  • - 2018-06-18 -

    CIPPIC has been granted leave to intervene before the Federal Court of Appeal in Cooperstock v United, an important consumer criticism case testing the boundaries of defences to copyright and trade-mark infringement.  CIPPIC's intervention is partner to a parallel intervention by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.  CIPPIC will focus on the trade-mark issues, while CCLA will address copyright issues.  Both interventions will explore the ways in which freedom of expression limits the reach of intellectual property rights

  • - 2018-06-06 -

    In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court has overturned the result reached in the Ontario Court of Appeal (and the court of first instance) and stayed an Ontario defamation action in favour of Israel as the most appropriate forum.

    CIPPIC intervened in the case, and was represented by CIPPIC Director David Fewer and co-counsel Professor Marina Pavlovic and Professor Jeremy de Beer.  CIPPIC's intervention focused on access to justice, forum shopping concerns, and technological neutrality.

    The dissenting justices, Chief Justice McLachlan (as she then was) and Justices Moldaver and Gascon, picked up on CIPPIC's access to justice arguments in their forum non conveniens analysis:

    [215] While the plaintiff in this case is wealthy, access to justice concerns are implicated when considering fairness, and must be considered. For many non-wealthy plaintiffs, being denied access to the courts of a particular jurisdiction — typically their home forum — means being denied justice altogether. In those cases, fairness would weigh even more heavily in favour of the plaintiff’s choice of forum.

  • - 2018-05-13 -

    Encryption is vital to maintaining the integrity of communications and computing systems in modern life. It is not only essential for securing trust in e-commerce systems, but also, in the digital age, integral to the realization of a wide range of human rights. In spite of the critical importance of encryption, some law enforcement and intelligence agencies view cryptography as a barrier to their investigative and intelligence-gathering activities, and have therefore called for limits on the public availability and use of uncompromised and secure encryption. This paper seeks to examine the parameters of this debate, with particular attention to its Canadian components and implications.

    In a sweeping report, launched today by CIPPIC in conjunction with our friends at the Citizen Lab, we canvass the importance of cryptography, historical and current attempts to undermine its utility in order to facilitate law enforcement and public safety objectives, and the legal implications of these attempts.

  • - 2018-04-23 -

    CIPPIC Summer Internship Program offers outstanding law students an unequaled opportunity to work on cutting-edge research and advocacy issues relating to law and technology.

    CIPPIC advocacy involves submission of briefs to government and other policy‐makers, intervention in precedent‐setting cases before judicial and quasi‐judicial tribunals, provision of public legal education resources, publication of reports, participation in multi‐stakeholder policy-making forums, provision of expert testimony before parliamentary committees, and advising under‐represented organizations and individuals on relevant public interest issues.

    Working closely with CIPPIC lawyers, interns learn how to be effective researchers, policy analysts, and advocates while contributing to public interest policy and law reform in such areas as copyright law, privacy, consumer protection, telecommunications regulation, net neutrality, free speech and civil liberties on the Internet. Interns may additionally have opportunities to attend conferences and workshops such as the CIPPIC summer speaker series and to participate in other aspects of the Centre for Law, Society, & Technology.

  • - 2018-04-16 -

    We are pleased to announce that we are now receiving applications for our 2018 Google Policy Fellowship (Canada), which will host a Google Policy Fellow at each of Canada's two leading technology research and policy centres - CIPPIC and the Citizen Lab, University of Toronto. CIPPIC's Google Policy Fellow will work closely with CIPPIC staff on a range of dynamic, cutting edge law & technology issues as we seek to further our public interest mandate. This includes helping to formulate strategy, conducting research and analysis, and drafting submissions to various levels of court, political and legislative venues, and regulatory bodies. Substantively, CIPPIC advocacy covers a diverse range of digital rights/policy issues, including copyright, privacy/electronic surveillance, telecommunications regulation/net neutrality, online consumer protection, online speech, access to knowledge and more general Internet governance concerns. CIPPIC is strongly committed to a diverse environment, and in particular encourages applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, women, Indigenous / Aboriginal People of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and others who will enrich our discourse by ensuring it is the product of a diversity of perspectives.

    Applications are due 5 pm EST, May 11, 2018. The fellowship will run for 10 weeks this summer and CIPPIC applications are open to any law students or law graduate students, with specific times and dates to be coordinated with the host organization. Application details can be found at:

  • - 2018-04-05 -

    CIPPIC has filed its factum in R v Jarvis, SCC Case No 37833, an appeal involving a high school teacher charged with voyeurism under s. 162(1)(c) of the Criminal Code for using a camera pen to surreptitiously take videos of female students which focused on their chests and cleavage area. The Ontario Court of Appeal concluded that the videos were not taken in "circumstances" in which students had "a reasonable expectation of privacy", a necessary element of the offense. 

    CIPPIC disagrees. We argue that the phrase, "circumstances giving rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy" must be interpreted consistently with other areas of law that see privacy as equality-enhancing, normative, contextual, and non-risk based. Our colleague Jane Bailey took the pen and makes a strong case for a robust vision of privacy - one that enhances equality and the ability to assert control over sexual and bodily integrity.

  • - 2018-03-06 -

    CIPPIC has been granted leave to intervene in R. v. Jarvis, SCC Case No. 27833. The case is an appeal of an Ontario Court of Appeal decision acquitting a teacher of a charge under the voyeurism provisions of the Criminal Code.  The accused had used a camera pen to surreptitiously take videos of the chests and cleavage of female students.  The decision under appeal determined that the videos were not taken in "“circumstances giving rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy”, an element necessary to establish the offense of voyeurism. 

    CIPPIC will argue that the Court should interpret “circumstances giving rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy” consistently with the Court’s well-established jurisprudence on privacy: privacy is normative, contextual, and not risk-based.