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Texting Emoji by Intel Free Press (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/e6Ng39

Supreme Court of Canada Rules Text Messages May Attract Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

The Supreme Court of Canada has issued a landmark decision concluding that text messages may attract a reasonable expectation of privacy even after they have been sent and received. The case recognizes the importance of electronic communications and the privacy implications of electronic messaging, establishing a standard that is likely to have a significant impact on investigations across the country. Further, the court’s emphasis on a functional approach to privacy in the digital world could have implications that extend well beyond conventional text messaging. The court was divided on the issue: four judges comprised the majority (written by Chief Justice McLachlin), Justice Rowe concurred, and Justice Moldaver wrote a dissent (joined by Justice Cote). The court also released a second decision today involving text messaging which examined the intercept provisions that will be the subject of a future post.

The heart of the case was characterized by the majority in the very first paragraph:

Can Canadians ever reasonably expect the text messages they send to remain private, even after the messages have reached their destination? Or is the state free, regardless of the circumstances, to access text messages from a recipient’s device without a warrant? The question in this appeal is whether the guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure in s. 8  of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms  can ever apply to such messages.

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December 8, 2017 5 comments News
Steve Verheul, Chief Trade Negotiator for the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), Canada by Polish Institute of International Affairs (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/jxP85n

Canada’s Lead Negotiator Confirms Government Seeking Net Neutrality Safeguards in NAFTA

Steve Verheul, Canada’s lead NAFTA negotiator, appeared before the Standing Committee on International Trade earlier this week to provide an update on the negotiations. In addition to confirming Canada’s commitment to a cultural exception (Verheul acknowledged that the U.S. “has not reacted positively”), Verheul was asked about the digital trade chapter. He indicated that there has been significant progress on issues such as online consumer protection and privacy.  He also touched on two other issues: one a Canadian ask and the other a U.S. priority.

From a Canadian perspective, Verheul said that Canada wants a net neutrality provision included in NAFTA, noting:

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December 7, 2017 4 comments News
Shaw Go Wifi by Mack Male (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/hbkSXm

Not Just Bell: Shaw Calls on CRTC To Support Website Blocking

As Bell develops plans to apply to the CRTC to create a website blocking agency, it is also working to create a coalition of supportive companies. The initial Canadaland report noted that the coalition could include Rogers, Cineplex, and Cinema Guzzo. Rogers has since indicated that it is still considering whether to join the coalition. As I note in my post today on the submissions to the CRTC’s consultation on broadcasting, Shaw is now also making the case for website blocking, devoting several pages to supporting it. Unlike Bell, however, it does not reference a specific agency mandated to support blocking, focusing instead on court-ordered blocking.

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December 6, 2017 16 comments News
Ich glotz TV. by Christian (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/aNQPMH

Digital Cancon, the Sequel: CRTC Broadcast Consult Sparks Demands for Everything from Internet and iPod Taxes to Website Blocking to Abandoning Net Neutrality

Canadians could be forgiven for thinking that the policies associated Cancon in a digital world largely wrapped up with the release of the government’s policy in September. Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly spent months crisscrossing the country, meeting with hundreds of stakeholders, and ultimately delivering a high profile policy that featured the much-debated Netflix commitment alongside various plans to support the sector. While Joly also promised reviews of the Broadcasting Act, Telecommunications Act, and Copyright Act, she puzzlingly re-opened the very issue she had just decided by issuing an Order-in-Council to the CRTC to examine (yet again) policies associated with broadcasting.

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December 6, 2017 6 comments News
Android Dev Phone 2 (aka Google Ion & HTC Magic) by Cedric Sam (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/7sBBdQ

Bell’s Latest Privacy Solution: Enhance Internet Privacy By Blocking Access to It

The Canadaland report on Bell’s plans to apply to the CRTC to create a website blocking agency unsurprisingly sparked immediate widespread concern. I provided further detail on the proposal, noting the danger of establishing a blocking system without court review of the block list and the very weak case Bell makes to justify it. A critical aspect of the Bell proposal is that it must convince the CRTC that website blocking would further Canada’s telecommunications policy objectives. Given that the CRTC has already ruled that the law prohibits blocking without its approval, that is a difficult standard to meet. I argue that the three justifications raised by Bell – that piracy “threatens the social and economic fabric of Canada”, that the telecommunications system should “encourage compliance with Canadian laws” and that website blocking “will significantly contribute toward the protection of the privacy of Canadian Internet users” – is very weak.

In fact, the privacy argument is not only weak, it is incredibly hypocritical. Bell is arguably the worst major Canadian telecom company on user privacy and its attempt to justify website blocking on the grounds that it wants to protect privacy is shameful. There are obviously far better ways of protecting user privacy from risks on the Internet than blocking access to sites that might create those risks. Further, with literally millions of sites that pose some privacy risk, few would argue that the solution lies in blocking all of them.

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December 5, 2017 5 comments News