• – 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.

  • – 2012-06-12 –

    In this analysis, CIPPIC looks at the ways in which Canadian open data providers can tap into Creative Commons to improve interoperability amongst their datasets.  Overall, we find that data users would have a much easier time combining data from different sources -- for example, compiling together map data from different municipalities and provinces across Canada -- under any of the following approaches:

    Open data providers could achieve numerous benefits with any of these methods, all with very minimal legal risk.  Our full report is available here:  Creative Commons Licenses: Options for Canadian Open Data Providers.

  • – 2012-06-03 –
    Time is running short for those wishing to nominate individuals to sit on CIRA's Board of Directors. CIRA, which operates the .CA registry, operates under a mandate that includes a number of important Internet governance issues. CIRA Board members are resopnsible for setting CIRA's strategic direction, helping achieve CIRA's mandate and objectives, and working towards supporting Canada's Internet community. The deadline for Board nominations is June 8, 2012. More detalis on the nomination process can be found here. More details on the election process in general can be found here. Three board positions are open for nomination, and successfully elected board members will sit for three successive election periods.
  • – 2012-06-01 –
    If you're interested in learning more about Open Educational Resources (OER), copyright, and Creative Commons licenses, don't miss the opportunity to participate in the OER Foundation's upcoming online workshop, Open Content Licensing for Educators.  CIPPIC is helping facilitate this course along with numerous other knowledgable experts in the field.
    This workshop is entirely free and runs from June 20 to July 3.  Register online at
  • – 2012-05-18 –

    CIPPIC has joined an international coalition of civil society organizations including CDT, EFF, IGP and EDRi in a letter of protest (Spanish) sent to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The letter protests the secrecy and exclusivity surrounding its preparations for the World Conference on International Communications (WCIT). Slated for negotiation during WCIT-12 is a potential re-envisioning of the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITR), an international treaty that currently governs traditional telephone communications amongst the numerous countries who have signed on to it. While the current ITRs are limited in scope primarily to telephone systems, the renegotiated text (which will be up for discussion and adoption at WCIT-12) is rumoured to weigh in heavily on several aspects of Internet governance.

    We say 'rumoured' because all the preparatory documents for WCIT-12 are sealed and civil society has been excluded from the discussions. The current ITU framework does not allow for open participation. Further, the ITU's business model (premised on the dubious concept of selling access to documents and decision-makers to corporate associates at prohibitive rates) is a significant barrier to civil society participation. While perhaps workable for regulation of telephone lines, this approach is antithetical to the distributed, multi-stakeholder governance model that has made the Internet the engine for innovation and freedom that it is today. The letter calls on the ITU to open the WCIT-12 preparatory documents up to public debate and to ensure all stakeholders, including civil society, the technical community, governments, and corporate interests are able to participate on equal footing. 

  • – 2012-05-09 –

    CIPPIC recently intervened in A.B. v. Bragg Communications Inc., a case that puts at issue the amount of anonymity litigants can claim in judicial processes. A.B. was a 15 year old victim of an online cyberbullying campaign that included the creation of an allegedly fake Facebook profile of her that attributed to her licentious sexual preferences and attitudes. A.B. sued, but wished to proceed anonymously, claiming that proceeding  under her real name would defeat the very reason for the lawsuit by subjecting her to further ridicule from her peers. It would further impact on her privacy rights, implicating her right to be left alone and her dignity and self-worth.

    CIPPIC argued that, while care must be taken not to impact too heavily on freedom of expression and on the open court principle (which holds that justice must be seen to be done), conflicts between fundamental rights such as privacy and freedom of expression must be carefully weighed in context. In particular, the Court's historic aversion to permitting anonymous litigants except in isolated scenarios needs to be re-examined. In light of the growing permanence, accessibility and searchability of court judgments, the privacy concerns in such scenarios are heightened and must be carefully weighed against countervailing freedom of expression concerns, in context. Proceeding anonymoulsy, particularly in a civil lawsuit, will often impact only slightly on freedom of expression and the open court principle, as there will be little public interest in the identity of the specific individual.

  • – 2012-04-18 –

    CIPPIC, alongside a broad coalition of U.S. and Canadian civil society groups, is participating in a week long protest against online spying in the name of cybersecurity. 'Stop Cyber Spying Week' is a response to the impending legislative enactment of a U.S. cybersecurity strategy that is excessively overbroad and will have serious implications for online privacy and expression.

    The development of an invasive U.S. cybersecurity strategy will have direct implications for Canadian civil liberties. We have, for one thing, committed to a 'Beyond the Borders' Initiative that seeks to harmonize Canada-United States approaches to a number of security issues, including cybersecurity. This means that a U.S. cybersecurity strategy adopted today may well become a Canadian cybersecurity strategy tomorrow. A comprehensive report published by the Rideau Institute in late 2011 suggests that the 'Shared Vision' espoused by the Canada-United States Initiative is very likely to involve a compromise on Canadian privacy. A Resolution issued last week by all of Canada's Federal/Provincial Privacy Commissioners expressed similar concern that programs adopted under the Initiative will lead to an unnecessary and unjustifiable loss of privacy for Canadians. All this does not bode well for Canadian privacy (or sovereignty) in general, but at the same time it makes the current U.S. cybersecurity debate particularly relevant to Canadians!

  • – 2012-04-12 –

    CIPPIC has filed a Statement of Defense on behalf of its client, Geolytica, in response to a lawsuit filed by the Canada Post Corporation in the Federal Court of Canada (File No. T-519-12) claiming that it owns copyright in its database of postal codes and that Geolytica has infringed that copyright by "crowd-sourcing" data for its own database of postal codes mapped to street addresses.

    The case raises fundamental copyright issues, including the scope of protection afforded compilations of data, the subsistence of copyright in factual address identifiers such as postal codes, and the availability of defenses such as fair dealing to developers of research tools such as Geolytica's Canadian Postal Code Geocoded Dataset.  The case will have significant implications for downstream innovators and analysts looking at using datasets for research and to facilitate the research of others.