Archive for April, 2012

Supreme Court of Canada Wiretap Decision Signals Need for Changes to C-30

The Supreme Court of Canada issued an important decision last week on the wiretap provisions in the Criminal Code that should have an impact on the lawful access/online surveillance bill currently before Parliament. In R. v. Tse, a unanimous court ruled that the current emergency wiretap provision that allows for surveillance without a court order is unconstitutional. The court’s analysis is important because it speaks to one of the major criticisms of Bill C-30 – the lack of accountability. In this particular case, the court rules that warrantless wiretap may be permissible in emergency situations, but that such circumstances make an accountability particularly important:

The jurisprudence is clear that an important objective of the prior authorization requirement is to prevent unreasonable searches. In those exceptional cases in which prior authorization is not essential to a reasonable search, additional safeguards may be necessary, in order to help ensure that the extraordinary power is not being abused. Challenges to the authorizations at trial provide some safeguards, but are not adequate as they will only address instances in which charges are laid and pursued to trial. Thus, the notice requirement, which is practical in these circumstances, provides some additional transparency and serves as a further check that the extraordinary power is not being abused. In our view, Parliament has failed to provide adequate safeguards to address the issue of accountability in relation to s. 184.4. Unless a criminal prosecution results, the targets of the wiretapping may never learn of the interceptions and will be unable to challenge police use of this power.

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April 16, 2012 9 comments News

Canada Post Files Copyright Lawsuit Over Crowdsourced Postal Code Database

Canada Post has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Geolytica, which operates, a website that provides several geocoding services including free access to a crowdsourced compiled database of Canadian postal codes. Canada Post argues that it is the exclusive copyright holder of all Canadian postal codes and claims that GeoCoder appropriated the database and made unauthorized reproductions.

GeoCoder, which is being represented by CIPPIC, filed its statement of defence yesterday (I am on the CIPPIC Advisory Board but have not been involved in the case other than providing a referral to CIPPIC when contacted by GeoCoder’s founder). The defence explains how GeoCoder managed to compile a postal code database by using crowdsource techniques without any reliance on Canada Post’s database. The site created street address look-up service in 2004 with users often including a postal code within their query. The site retained the postal code information and gradually developed its own database with the postal codes (a system not unlike many marketers that similarly develop databases by compiling this information). The company notes that it has provided access to the information for free for the last eight years and that it is used by many NGOs for advocacy purposes.

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April 13, 2012 38 comments News

U.S. Report on IP Shows How Small “Big Content” Really Is

Ars Technica has an excellent analysis of a new U.S. government report that has been trumpeted by the movie and music industries as evidence of the importance of the IP economy. Upon closer inspection, the vast majority of the “IP economy” refers to trademark rights including residential construction and grocery […]

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April 13, 2012 2 comments News

Ontario Government Plans Consumer Protection Law for Wireless Services

The Ontario Government has announced plans to introduce new consumer protection legislation to increase transparency on wireless plans and to establish some contractual limitations. The wireless industry has indicated it would prefer a national code of practice. I wrote about the issue last year during the provincial election campaign.

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April 13, 2012 1 comment News

Socialists & Democrats Group at European Parliament to Reject ACTA

The Socialists and Democrats Group at the European Parliament, the second largest bloc of MEPs, has announced that it plans vote against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, yet another indication that ACTA is likely to be defeated later this spring at the EP.

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April 13, 2012 Comments are Disabled News