• – 2014-02-11 –

    CIPPIC has joined over 6,000 organization and individual websites in an international day of action protesting against mass surveillance. The Day We Fight Back, which began as a U.S. based initiative spearheaded by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Access, Center for Democracy & Technology, Mozilla, Reddit, and others, has taken on international dimensions as groups and individuals throughout the world are speaking out against the increasingly disproportionate overreaching of their respective national spying agencies.

    The grassroots campaign includes a Canadian component, an international component and a U.S.-based component. The Canadian-based component provides a mechanism, hosted at by, which lets individuals send their local MPs a message calling for an end to the government's excessive surveillance practices. The international component lets individuals sign on to the International Principles for the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, a set of legal principles developed by CIPPIC and a number of other civil society groups designed to secure privacy and other human rights in an environment where it is rapidly becoming technologically feasible to collect 'everything'. The U.S. component allows individuals to either phone or email their congressional representatives in support of legislation that seeks to roll back the expansive powers of U.S. investigative agencies. So far, as of 2 pm, over 170,000 individuals have signed the International & Canadian calls to action since this morning. In the United states, 45,000+ and 100,000+, respectively, have phoned and emailed their U.S. congressional representatives.

  • – 2014-01-20 –

    In preperation for a series of hearings that will reexamine television policy from the ground up, the CRTC has encouraged Canadians to host a series of 'Flash! Conferences', with the intention of gaining views from the general public on television preferences. The Conferences were intended to canvass a range of issues. Foremost amongst these is are challenges posed to Canada's broadcasting policy objectives by the transition to new media platforms such as the Internet and other digital networks. Additional concerns related to the need to secure a level playing field by ensuring fundamental principles such as net neutrality are preserved in the new ecosystem. Finally, the discussions seeked to reconcile complex conflicts relating to maximizing viewer choice in television packaging, reducing out of control cable pricing and securing the ongoing creation of quality Canadian content. CIPPIC co-hosted a Flash! Conference in Ottawa, and helped review a report summarizing results from another series of Flash! conferences facilitated by our friends at

  • – 2013-11-08 –

    CIPPIC's submission to the Notice and Notice consultations calls for a fair system that facilitates good faith allegations of infringement while dissuading misuse of the system.

    The Notice and Notice consultations pertain to the system established in the Copyright Modernization Act for copyright owners to provide internet service providers and search engines with notices alleging infringement with respect to the activities of customers of those services. The ISPs and search engines are obliged under the law to forward the notices. The consultations seek input on the implementation of the system.

    CIPPIC's submission calls for clear identification of the party making the allegation and the works involved, clarity that the notice is merely an allegation - not a determination - of infringement, and penalties for misuse of the notice system.

  • – 2013-10-29 –

    CIPPIC joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Privacy International in writing a submission to the Inter-America Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) as part of a thematic hearing examining the U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) electronic surveillance activities and their consistency with human rights protections. The thematic hearing constitutes the first time that the IACHR (an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States and one of the key institutions that oversees human rights protections within the inter-American system) is to examine the NSA's mass surveillance programs.

    The submission, which was signed by 24 organizations from throughout the Americas, highlighted the scope and legal framework of the NSA's surveillance programs and argued that these violated the right to privacy and free expression, as guaranteed by the Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man. In particular, the submission pointed to the indiscriminate nature of the NSA's surveillance programs as recently confirmed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden, as well as the explicit disregard for the human rights of non-US persons that is at the heart of its legal authorization framework.

  • – 2013-07-31 –

    CIPPIC has joined over 120 civil society groups from around the world in endorsing a set of principles (FR) geared towards re-asserting what it means to protect privacy and associated human rights in light of increasing state surveillance capacities. Over the past several years, several gaps and cracks have developed in constitutional privacy frameworks around the world, which have simply not kept up with technological advances. Slipping through these cracks, government monitoring has grown to exponential proportions, as highlighted most recently and dramatically by a string of revelations regarding the unchecked surveillance programs operated by several foreign intelligence agencies in Canada and around the world. Over the past year, CIPPIC has worked with a number of civil society groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Privacy International and Access to develop these principles as a means of addressing several of these shortcomings. As detailed below, the Principles collectively call for:

    • Transparency in Surveillance. The basis and interpretation of surveillance powers must be on the public record, and rigorous reporting and individual notification obligations are required;
    • Technical Neutrality. It is no longer acceptable to rely on artificial technical distinctions such as 'content' or 'non-content' as a basis for harvesting mass amounts of personal information;
    • Proportionality & Due Process. It is time to re-assert what has historically been the primary vehicle for preventing electronic surveillance from getting out of hand: prior authorization by an independent judicial entity based on a determination that the surveillance is highly likely to provide evidence that will address a serious harm;
    • Formalized Trans-Border Access. All access to any data of any individual must occur in a manner that is consistent with these Principles. It is no longer acceptable to bypass domestic privacy protections by relying on secretive and informal information sharing arrangements with foreign states, on voluntary cooperation by private international companies, or by treating individuals as though they lack privacy rights simply because they live in another country.

    It is time to turn back the surveillance tide. If your organization is interested in endorsing these principles or in learning more, please email: The full set of principles can be found at and

  • – 2013-06-27 –

    The CRTC issued Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2013-310 today, in which it approved the merger of Canada's largest and most heavily integrated communications company (Bell) and Canada's last significant independent (and non-integrated) broadcaster (Astral). In its submissions to this proceeding, CIPPIC called on the Commission to refuse the merger a second time, pointing to a number of flaws in the current regulatory framework that a merged Bell/Astral could exploit in order to harm competition and innovation in Canadian services. Specifically, CIPPIC was concerned post-merger Bell will drive up costs, limit online innovation by centralizing online distribution and restrict customer choice by constraining program packaging. Averting these harms and preserving the public interest in the face of a highly concentrated Bell/Astral will require a more invasive regulatory approach than provided by the Commission's current vertical integration toolset, which relies heavily on flawed dispute resolution mechanisms.

    While disappointingly approving the merger, the Commission acknowledges the need for some form of "additional oversight" in light of "BCE's increased ability to act in an anti-competitive manner." Further, it expressly states concerns over online innovation:

    that BCE’s market position relating to multiplatform rights could permit it to act as a “gatekeeper,” effectively preventing other distributors from offering services to their customers until BCE has decided to offer such services on its own platforms. The Commission is concerned that this could stifle innovation and limit the growth of digital media in Canada.

    However, the Commission appears to adopt a 'wait and see' approach to many of the challenges in question, noting, for example, that it will explore new dispute resolution mechanisms on a 'case by case' basis and in other instances expressing 'expectations' that Bell will not act in an anti-competitive manner, without specifying how it will monitor or enforce these expectations.

  • – 2013-06-12 –

    CIPPIC has been granted leave to intervene at the Federal Court of Appeal in two appeals that raise important copyright issues. National Post v. Fournier and Warman v. Fournier are being heard together. The cases raise important issues such as whether hyperlinks count as 'attribution' (a pre-requisite to the exercise of some fair dealing rights), the application of copyright law's limitation period to works published on the internet (specifically, whether something posted to the Internet is reproduced 'every day' it remains available online), whether reproducing excerpts from an original work amounts to "substantial" reproduction when assessing a non-economic claim of infringement and the nature of liability for Internet intermediaries such as online discussion platforms.

    The Court of Appeal also granted the Computer and Communications Industry Association intervener status in the appeal.

  • – 2013-06-03 –

    The CRTC released Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2013-271 today, its decision in a proceeding which set out to establish a new Code to protect consumers of wireless services. The Code represents a solid first step towards addressing myriad woes that have been plaguing Canadian wireless services. It adopts measures that should alleviate bill shock resulting from excessive charges for data usage by requiring service providers to gain express customer consent before charging them in excess of $50 in data usage charges ($100 for international data roaming). It also takes steps towards limiting the ability of service providers to impose changes onto customers during the course of their contract. The Code also obligates service providers to unlock customer phones -- an important step, which will make it easier for customers to switch providers or use foreign SIM cards when travelling abroad. These are all important steps, which will somewhat address concerns that have plagued customers of Canadian wireless services for years.

    In addition, the Code limits amortization time-lines to two years, a measure that will effectively end the unique 3 year lock-in period that Canadians uniquely enjoy. In its submissions to TNC CRTC 2012-557, CIPPIC argued that the 3 year lock-in period is harmful to customers, in that it denies them access to a rapidly evolving marketplace and locks them into devices that are often not even supported for three years. Moreover, CIPPIC argued that Canadian incumbents are using 3 year contracts as a lock-in mechanism designed to prevent their existing historical customer base from reaching the small number of new market entrants, who started operations in late 2009/2010 after the AWS spectrum auction -- barely three years ago. Finally, CIPPIC conducted an international pricing comparison which demonstrated that Canada's unique 3 year amortization periods do not lead to lower prices for customers, but rather to higher overall costs when one considers the value of a 'free' handset in conjunction with the very high monthly service offerings Canadian customers must endure for three years at a time. Canada's OECD counterparts offer the same phones and services for less, and do so without three year lock-ins. The Code will apply in full to any mobile agreement entered into or amended after December 2, 2013. The 2 year term limit, however, applies to all service contracts as of today (June 3, 2012). For more information see:

  • – 2013-03-30 –

    CIPPIC participated in a consultation held by the Assemblée nationale du Québec on the Province's data protection and right to information framework. The consultation sought input on a set of recommendations issued by the the Commission d'accès à l'information du Québec and designed to update Québec's freedom of information statute and privacy statute in light of technological changes.

    CIPPIC's submission addressed a number of the Commission's recommendations, including issues arising from risks of re-identification, the need for data minimization obligations, the need for a right to information that extends to data that must be processed before it can be released, and the need to impose an obligation on the government to proactively disclose data useful to the public in interoperable formats.

  • – 2013-03-27 –

    The Supreme Court of Canada issued its ruling in R. v. Telus Communications Company, 2013 SCC 16, in which it was called upon to decide the extent to which important privacy protections offered for the interception of private communications should apply to advanced communications delivery mechanisms. Normally, a special interception warrant (called a Part VI authorization) is required before police are authorized to access private communications that have not yet occurred. In this case, however, the government argued it should be able to bypass the critical privacy protections found in Part VI because one company, TELUS, decides to temporarily store these as part of its message delivery process. The premise for this argument was that Part VI only protects against 'interceptions', and you cannot 'intercept' something that is not in motion, including TELUS' temporarily stored text messages. Therefore, the government can gain access to future messages that have not yet been sent, and no 'interception' occurs since the messages are taken from TELUS' stored databases.

    The problem is that, while real-time voice was the predominant form of electronic communications in the late 70s when Part VI protections were enacted, many forms of electronic communications, including SMS and email, employ temporary storage as part of the delivery process. The question then arises: do we throw away a critical set of privacy protections just because private communications are being transmitted by new techniques? In our intervention in this case, we argued against an overly narrow definition of Part VI that would defeat its ultimate purpose -- the protection of private communications. Today's decision saw a 5-3 majority of the Supreme Court rejecting the argument that police can do what is effectively and practically the type of 'electronic conversation' that Part VI was intended to protect. Access to text messages that have not yet been sent normally requires Part VI authorization. Just because TELUS stores its messages for a short period of time as part of the delivery process does not mean Part VI can be ignored.