News

  • – 2012-12-18 –

    CIPPIC has submitted comments in Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2012-557, a proceeding which seeks to establish a set of rights of customers of wireless services across Canada. The proceeding was launched after the Commission decided, in Telecom Decision CRTC 2012-556, that wireless customers were in need for greater protections at the national level. CIPPIC's submission, filed on behalf of OpenMedia.ca, focused on the need to address many shortcomings in the Canadian wireless landscape and the need to facilitate competition. Specifically, CIPPIC called on the CRTC to restrict termination penalties and hardware lock-ins.

    Using a combination of technical lock-in mechanisms and excessive penalties for breaking contracts, providers prevent customers from switching outside 2-3 year contractual cycles. At the same time, these lock-in mechanisms prevent effective competition on handset prices. Providers have no incentive to ever compete on handset prices, as higher-seeming handset prices make handset subsidy-based three year lock-ins appear a fantastic deal for customers. In reality, however, customers end up paying more for the handset and more for their monthly services, while providers are insulated from actually having to compete to keep their customer base. An effective Wireless Consumer Protection Code will address this deficiency.

  • – 2012-12-17 –

    Last week, Voltage Pictures filed a motion to identify approximatel 2,000 IP addresses allegedly belonging to individuals who have infringed its copyrights by means of peer-to-peer file sharing mechanisms. CIPPIC is seeking to intervene in this matter to ensure that procedural safeguards and the privacy rights of the anonymous Does are respected.

    On December 14, 2012, CIPPIC filed a letter with the Federal Court seeking to delay the hearing of Voltage's motion to compel Internet Service Provider Teksavvy Solutions to disclose the identities of its subscribers alleged to have downloaded movies the copyright to which Voltage owns. Although supporting evidence for the motion was only filed on Tuesday, December 11, it was scheduled to be heard today (only 6 days later). While CIPPIC is not yet a party to this proceeding, its letter was intended to ensure the Court was aware of the nuemrous legal and policy issues raised by Voltage's request. The letter asked the Court to provide more time for defendants to respond to the motion, as well as to provide time for CIPPICs own intended intervention. Today, in court, Teksavvy similarly asked the Court to extend timelines for this process, which it did. The next hearing date will be January 14, 2013.

  • – 2012-11-05 –

    The Supreme Court of Canada has granted CIPPIC leave to intervene in R. v. Chehil & R. v. MacKenzie (SCC File Nos. 34524 & 34397, respectively), two now joint appeals in which the SCC that will examine the 'reasonable suspicion' standard in the context of sniffer dog searches. The 'reasonable suspicion' standard forms the basis for a rapidly increasing number of privacy-invasive state powers including several electronic surveillance powers currently being proposed by the Government in an attempt to increase its online spying capacities.

    As stated in its motion for leave to intervene, CIPPIC intends to argue for a reasonable suspicion standard that cannot be marshalled in order to conduct mass surveillance of individual citizens. CIPPIC is particularly concerned that an overly permissive standard will be used to justify privacy infringements by means of a vast array of police-assisted tools. Many have noted this potential for sniffer dog judgements to be applied more broadly to other means of technological surveillance, most recently in the context of an upcoming Supreme Court of the United States hearing on sniffer dogs. For more information and resources, see CIPPIC's project page for this intervention: https://cippic.ca/sniffer_dogs.

  • – 2012-10-15 –

    Today, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear Telus Communications Company v. Her Majesty the Queen, SCC File No. 34252. The case will decide whether police will be permitted to bypass special privacy protections the Criminal Code provides against the interception of text messages. The argument is that because TELUS stores text messages passing through its system for the purpose of ensuring delivery, these messages are no longer 'in transit' and, hence, acquiring them is not an 'interception' and does not warrant the special Criminal Code protections in question.

    In its intervention in this case, CIPPIC argues that courts should not let narrow interpretations of provisions defeat important protections offered to constitutional rights such as privacy. Such provisions should be interpreted in a flexible manner that accounts for evolutions in communications delivery mechanisms. Temporary storage is a natural feature of evolved communications mechanisms such as text messaging, Email, and other web-based interactions. Temporary storage of this nature, particularly when undertaken by communications intermediaries such as TELUS, is typically considered part and parcel of the communications process. Storage for the purpose of message delivery should, therefore, be considered part of the message delivery process. While this may not provide special protection for communications that is in storage and in control of the user (a voice message, for example, or archived email), it does provide protection for communications stored by communications companies solely as part of the delivery process.

  • – 2012-10-07 –
    ICANN45, will be held in Toronto next week. As the institution charged with governance of Internet resrouce identifiers, ICANN holds tri-annual meetings in order to discuss and resolve pressing policy issues related to the operation of the Internet including privacy concerns, security concerns, more general infrastructure concerns. It also includes a 'newcomers track' to help introduce ICANN issues to those not fully versed. The Toronto event will be hosted by CIRA, the entity tasked with managing the .CA top level domain. Events will kick off with a Policy Conference hosted by ICANN's Non-Commercial User Constituency (NCUC) on Friday, October 12, 2012. The Conference, entitled "ICANN & Internet Governance: Security and Freedom in a Connected World", will explore the need for a civil liberties-sensitive cybersecurity strategy, the need to ensure law enforcement concerns do not trump privacy and other fundamental liberties, conflicts between the intellectual property rights enforcement and free expression and concerns over the nature of geo-political Internet governance. 
     
    The events offers a unique opportunity for Canadians to participate and engage on important Internet policy issues. The eICANN 45 meetings and sessions will be held in Toronto from October 14-19 and are open to the general public. Remote participation for ICANN45 and the NCUC Policy Forum is also available. Register now to ICANN45 and the NCUC Policy Forum!
  • – 2012-09-27 –

    The Supreme Court of Canada recently issued A.B. v. Bragg Communications Inc., 2012 SCC 46, in which it reasserted the need to protect privacy, as well as the sensitivities of cyberbullying victims within the discovery process. Historically, the ever-important principle that justice must be public prevented victims of certain wrongs from protecting their identity when pursuing lawsuits. In its intervention, CIPPIC argued that in an age of heightened privacy concerns, the impact of forcing litigants to air their dirty laundry in a public, permanent online record will in many cases exceed what is typically a narrow public interest in knowing the identity of a litigant. Further, in scenarios involving cyberbullying, preventing litigants from proceeding pseudonymously will in many cases prevent access to the law, as a desire to avoid re-victimization may push the objects of cyberbullying to forgo enforcement of their rights altogether.

    While reaffirming the vital importance of the open court principle, the Court, in a unanimous judgement penned by Madam Justice Abella, held that the relationship between this principle and the right to privacy, as well as the realities of cyberbullying, requires elaboration. The Court particularly emphasized the importance of respecting the privacy of youths, the need to avoid discouraging litigation by exposing victims of cyberbullying to revictimization as a result of litigation. Allowing broader scope for anonymous litigants would advance privacy rights and allow victims of cyberbullying to access the justice system. Furthering these values outweigh the minimal harm that may result to the open justice principle if the identity of litigants is protected from the public eye.

  • – 2012-09-18 –

    OpenStreetMap, a global "wikipedia of maps", demonstrates that volunteer collaborations are a force to be reckoned with in the geography world. Increasingly, crowd-sourced Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) projects are addressing mapping needs in crisis situations. The 2010 Haitian earthquakes provoked a blossoming of such initiatives, with a mileau of volunteer mapping efforts put forth to assist with relief efforts. Similar mapping efforts are now cropping up to assist in the context of forest fires, floods, hurricanes and other disasters.

    Whether you contribute to VGI projects or rely upon the information, there are some key legal issues and potential legal risks that arise in this exciting new mapping environment. CIPPIC has put together a toolkit to help keep you informed. With the assistance of Professor Chandler, CIPPIC interns Laura Crestohl and Robert Vitulano, and generous funding from the GEOIDE Network, CIPPIC presents:

  • – 2012-07-13 –

    CIPPIC has been granted leave to intervene before the Supreme Court of Canada in Telus Communications Company v. Her Majesty the Queen, SCC No. 34252. The case involves the application of the general warrant power in order to force TELUS to hand over text messages not yet in its possession. TELUS' appeal challenges the use of general warrants in a manner that effectively amounts to an 'interception' and bypasses the special protections provided for 'interceptions' in Part VI of the Criminal Code, while the government argued that, since TELUS stores text messages on its servers for a number of weeks, access to these messages should not be considered a 'real-time interception'.

    In its motion for leave to intervene, CIPPIC argued that law enforcement should not be permitted to bypass important privacy safeguards designed to protect Canadian communications against unauthorized interception. The purpose of Part VI Criminal Code protections is to ensure that police co not leverage the mechanisms by which private communications are delivered to spy on Canadians unless there is strong reason to do so and other methods have been tried and have failed. Text messages are cached as part of the communications delivery process and caching, in general, is widely used in Internet transactions. If courts permitted superfluous caching to defeat the special protections provided against interception, it could have wide-ranging implications for the privacy of online interactions.

  • – 2012-07-12 –

    The Supreme Court of Canada has released its long-awaited decisions in the Copyright Pentalogy - five cases (CIPPIC intervened in all five) spanning a range of troubling issues in Canadian copyright law, from the scope of fair dealing in the educational and consumer contexts to the liability implications of offering a download service. All in all, the day was a big win for rational, flexible copyright law (fuller descriptions after the jump):

    • Alberta (Education) v. Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright), 2012 SCC 37 - In a 5-4 majority decision, Justice Abella lays out a spirited defence of fair dealing.
    • Entertainment Software Association v. Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, 2012 SCC 34 - Another 5-4 majority. The majority articulated a strong defence of the principle of technological neutrality.
    • Rogers Communicaitons Inc. v. Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, 2012 SCC 35 - Given the majority decision in ESA v. SOCAN, the issue of downloads has been ruled moot. However, the majority deals with "on demand" services and comments on the nature of 'communications to the public' in the context of online transactions.
    • Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada v. Bell Canada, 2012 SCC 36 - The iTunes case: Is it legal to offer 30 second previews of songs without payment? Yes! The Court unanimously finds that consumer research may qualify as fair dealing
    • Re:Sound v. Motion Picture Theatr Associatino of Canada, 2012 SCC 38 - The most curious of the 5 cases, in that no one is sure why the Court wished to hear this appeal. The issue was whether performers could get a tariff for music in public performances of movies, despite the Act's clear definition of "sound recording" excluding soundtracks of films. The mystery remains: the Court unanimously dismissed the appeal in 53 short paragraphs.
  • – 2012-06-26 –

    The Canadian Identity Theft Support Centre (CITSC) is scheduled for its official launch on June 28, 2012. The CITSC will be Canada's first comprehensive support centre for victims of identity theft. It will provide much needed support services for victims of identity theft who undertake the often long and difficult road to recovering their identities. This identy recovery process is typically lengthy and time-consuming. Modelled on the successful U.S. based Identity Theft Resource Center, the CITSC will operate as a source of guidance for Canadians in their attempts to navigate this process.

    The CITSC will also act as a source of educational materials aimed at educting Canadians on how to protect their identities and on steps that can be taken by Canadians to help spot early signs their identity may have been stolen. In addition, the CITSC will act as a source of research and knowledge dissemination regarding the parameters and nature of identity theft harms in Canada. 

    CIPPIC is highly supportive of the CITSC's initiatives, and will be participating in the public launch of the Centre. Join us in person at the Ottawa launch, which will be held from 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm EST in the Newfoundland Room of the Westin (11 Colonel By Drive) in Ottawa. The Centre will be simultaneously launched in Vancouver, B.C., at Library Square.