Category: Privacy


The Internet: Law’s Wild West Gives Birth to New Tort

The internet has made our life efficient and easier but it has also enabled bullies and predators to find new and persistent ways to reach their victims. A step in the right direction was taken by the Ontario Superior Court, in Doe 464533 v ND, 2016 ONSC 541 [Doe], by establishing the new tort of publication of embarrassing private facts. The identities of both the plaintiff and defendant in Doe are under a publication ban, but the ban does not diminish the precedent setting nature of the case. Besides establishing a new tort, Doe is also significant because the Court...


R v Rogers Communications: Some Guidelines for Big Brother

In R v Rogers Communications, 2016 ONSC 70 [Rogers], Justice John Sproat of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice provided some much needed guidance to police and issuing justices when handling production orders for “tower dumps.” Sought by investigators through a court order, tower dumps occur when a telecom company is compelled to provide the names and numbers of cellphone users that have used a particular cellphone tower. So why should you care if you did not commit a crime? What are the police going to do with that information? There is a good chance that if the information is...


R v Bandali: Patient Information and Securities Trading in Ontario

Personal Health Information Protection in Ontario We live in a time where we are constantly bombarded with information. At the same time,  more and more institutions and businesses are keeping track of our personal data. Sometimes this information is shared inappropriately and some other times, where it should be shared, it is not. In Ontario, people often complain when their healthcare information is not being shared between providers and specialists, thus making the process of going to the doctor unnecessarily time consuming. It was not until recently that we have started to have a public debate about who can access...


A Exclusive Interview: R v Spencer One Year Later

A New Hurdle To Protecting Our Children? A Perspective from the Toronto Police Internet Child Exploitation Unit Last year, published two key articles about the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark ruling on Internet privacy. See Jordan Casey’s summary here and Stuart Wood’s analysis here. After its release, R v Spencer, [2014] 2 SCR 212 [Spencer] was hailed by privacy advocates as a monumental shift toward establishing meaningful protection of informational privacy and fundamental notions of liberty and human rights. However, strong views expressing the detrimental effect of Spencer are more pronounced as the impact of the ruling sets in. In...


A Turn in Tide: Carter versus Rodriguez

Some months ago, the Supreme Court of Canada’s (“SCC”) ruling in Carter v Canada (Attorney General), [2015] 1 SCR 331 [Carter] made national headlines. Although all decisions of the SCC are important, this one seemed to strike a nerve or two on both sides of the playing field. In this case, as described in more detail here and here, the Court struck down a twenty-one-year-old law declaring physician-assisted dying an indictable offence. With the old law, once a person was convicted he or she could face up to 14 years of imprisonment. Although the ruling in R v Rodriguez, [1993] 3 SCR 519 [Rodriguez]...


Hopkins v Kay: Health Law Information Remains Protected by the Common Law

In Hopkins v Kay, 2015 ONCA 112 the Ontario Court of Appeal (“ONCA”) ensured that parties who suffer misuse of their private health information can claim common law damages against the wrongdoer. The court found that statutory damages under the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, SO 2004, c 3, Sch A [PHIPA], did not create an exhaustive means of redress.


R v Belcourt : Privacy and Punishment When the Safety Is Off

The British Columbia Court of Appeal (“BCCA”) decision in R v Belcourt, 2015 BCCA 126 [Belcourt], weighed the constitutional underpinnings of two different issues—privacy, and instructions on mens rea requirements—in a second-degree murder charge. The BCCA concluded that the privacy rights of Belcourt, the accused, were not infringed by the production of text messages under a general warrant. However, they did conclude that the trial judge did not clearly explain the mens rea requirement of the notoriously tricky section 229(c) of the Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46 [Code] to the jury, and thus ordered a new trial.


Naming Names in the FRO: Ontario (MCSS) v John Doe

The Family Responsibility Office (“FRO”) is a division of the Ministry of Community and Social Services that is responsible for collecting, distributing, and enforcing child and spousal support payments. It has broad enforcement powers for those who fall behind on their support. These include garnishing bank accounts, suspending driver’s licences and passports, and issuing writs of seizure and sale on property. Use of these powers has made the FRO staff and individual employees the target of threats by delinquent support payors. These threats were the subject of the Ontario Court of Appeal’s (“ONCA”) recent decision in Ontario (Minister of Community...


Does Government Spying Make Us Safer? Liberty v Secretary of State

A Decision of the United Kingdom’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal (“the Tribunal”) in Liberty v Secretary of State, [2015] UKIPTrib 13 77-H [Liberty], endorsed the importance of transparency in the surveillance practices of British security agencies such as the Security Service (“MI5”), the Secret Intelligence Service (“MI6”), and the Government Communications Headquarters (“GCHQ”). The decision emphasized meaningful procedural protections for citizens as a necessary counterbalance to intrusive state powers. The Tribunal’s rationale marks an important contrast to the approach adopted by Canadian policymakers in striking a balance between state security and civil liberties in a time of expanding state surveillance powers.


The Retirement of Justice Louis LeBel and the Secretive Process that Led to the Appointment of Suzanne Côté

The government has slammed the door on parliamentary and public involvement regarding the replacement of retiring Justice Louis LeBel. On November 30, 2014, Justice LeBel turned 75, the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court judges. Most justices often depart some months before their birthdays, but LeBel decided to take his tenure right to the end. He gave his six months’ notice on May 23, 2014, and Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin’s office announced the retirement in a news release that day.