The Canadian government released its plans yesterday for online harms legislation with a process billed as a consultation, but which is better characterized as an advisory notice, since there are few questions, options or apparent interest in hearing what Canadians think of the plans. Instead, the plans led by Canadian […]
Post Tagged with: "charter of rights"
Picking Up Where Bill C-10 Left Off: The Canadian Government’s Non-Consultation on Online Harms Legislation
Failing Analysis: Why the Department of Justice “Updated” Charter Statement Doesn’t Address Bill C-10’s Free Speech Risks
The Department of Justice yesterday released its updated Charter statement on Bill C-10. To the surprise of absolutely no one, the department argued that the bill is Charter compliant. That conclusion was never in doubt as the statement is quite clearly more a political document than a legal analysis. The only real questions were whether the department would seriously grapple with the freedom of expression implications of treating all user generated content as a “program” subject to regulation by the CRTC and if Minister of Justice David Lametti would come to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to answer questions on the statement. It turns out the answer is no to both questions: the statement glosses over the actual concerns with Bill C-10 and Lametti will be a no-show at the committee hearing.
The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage continued its clause-by-clause review of Bill C-10 on Friday. As reported in the National Post and iPolitics, the meeting featured a motion brought by Conservative MP Rachael Harder calling on the committee to suspend review of the bill until an updated review of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms implications can be conducted by the Minister of Justice in light of the removal of Section 4.1, that provided safeguards against regulating user generated content under the Broadcasting Act. The motion also calls on the Ministers of Justice and Canadian Heritage to appear before committee to discuss the issue.
Canadian privacy law has long been reliant on the principle of “reasonable expectation of privacy.” The principle is particularly important with respect to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as the Supreme Court of Canada has held that the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure is grounded in a reasonable expectation of privacy in a free and democratic society.
The reasonable expectation of privacy standard provides a useful starting point for analysis, but the danger is that privacy rights can seemingly be lost with little more than a contractual provision indicating that the user has no privacy. Indeed, if privacy rights can disappear based on a sentence in a contract that few take the time to read (much less assess whether they are comfortable with), those rights stand on very shaky ground.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the limits of the reasonable expectation of privacy standard emerged in a recent British Columbia Court of Appeal case involving the search of a courier package that contained illegal drugs. The court rejected claims of an illegal search, concluding that the defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy despite the fact that he had no commercial relationship with the courier company and had never agreed to, or even viewed, the terms of the contract.