The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Justin Ling


Is Canada ready for a new data breach notification regime?

By Justin Ling September 13, 2017 13 September 2017

Is Canada ready for a new data breach notification regime?


Businesses in Canada are going to have to get serious about figuring out how to respond to a data breach.

This week’s massive Equifax breach is a reminder of the stakes at play when dealing with users’ data. The looming implementation of proposed regulations under Canada’s Digital Privacy Act should also stiffen their resolve.

After Equifax’ systems were hacked, data on as many as 143 million Americans — and possibly a number of Canadians and others — was potentially compromised.

The fallout has the U.S. Congress demanding answers, the New York Attorney General’s office has launched an investigation, and class action lawsuits are being filed against it across America.

One application for a class action, filed this week in a New York courtroom, contends that Equifax acted negligently by taking more than a full month to report the breach to their consumers on September 7, after learning of it on July 29.

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Digital privacy at the border: What’s in your phone?

By Justin Ling September 1, 2017 1 September 2017

Digital privacy at the border: What’s in your phone?

As it stands, crossing the border back into Canada can be risky privacy-wise.

To order a search of a traveller, their briefcase, or cellphone, a border guard need only have a reasonable grounds for supposing that they have “contraband secreted about his or her body,” as the Supreme Court established in 1988’s R. v. Simmons.

Such reasonable grounds are enough for customs officers to take actions that risk subjecting travellers to some pretty embarrassing and compromising situations — such as imposing “bedpan vigils” on people suspected of using their bodies as a vehicle for smuggling drugs.

In R. v. Monney, the Supreme Court of Canada held that was the price to be paid to strike a “necessary balance between an individual’s privacy interest and the compelling countervailing state interest in protecting the integrity of Canada’s borders from the flow of dangerous contraband materials.”

That was in 1999, when cellphones were repositories of little more than contacts and call logs. Even desktop computers could hold little more than 15 gigabytes of data.

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Copyright law

Battle over costs of fighting online piracy might be heading to SCC

By Justin Ling August 24, 2017 24 August 2017

Battle over costs of fighting online piracy might be heading to SCC


Canada’s notice-and-notice regime could soon see its first test at the Supreme Court as Rogers Communications fights for the right to charge rights-holders for the trouble of contacting those pirating copyrighted material.

It’s a legal battle that will serve to hone Canada’s unique copyright laws, but could also determine whether notice-and-notice continues to be the easiest avenue for rights holders, or whether it will be abandoned in favour of other methods to go after pirates.

The case is between Voltage Pictures and Rogers. The former, a film production company, has fought vigorously to go after those trafficking in their films online, conscripting Rogers to help it do so.

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Internet law

Hosting hate and limits to freedom of expression

By Justin Ling August 18, 2017 18 August 2017

Hosting hate and limits to freedom of expression


Following the events of Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, The Daily Stormer has been forced to retreat to the darknet.

While the average person was likely be unfamiliar with the site, until recent events, it is infamous in alt-right and far-right circles for its virulent anti-semitism, racism, and all around offensive content.

The Daily Stormer has had its fair share of legal troubles over the years, but the site has managed to stay online.

That changed on Monday, when the site’s host — GoDaddy — announced they would be booting The Daily Stormer from its domain hosting services. When the site moved to Google’s hosting service, they received a similar notice: The site is a violation of the host’s terms of service.

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International law

Google's US court challenge to SCC "repugnant" order

By Justin Ling August 4, 2017 4 August 2017

Google's US court challenge to SCC "repugnant" order

The long-running legal wrangle between Google and Equustek Solutions Inc, a B.C. technology company, is far from over.

In June, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld an injunction against Google forcing it to remove search results for a former Equustek distributor, who had been violating the company’s intellectual property through shell companies in different jurisdictions outside Canada.

Now it is Google that has changed venues to challenge the Equustek ruling. It filed a 13-page application in a California court trying to block the Canadian order.

 “Google now turns to this Court, asking it to declare that the rights established by the First Amendment and the Communications Decency Act are not merely theoretical,” the application reads. “The Canadian order is repugnant to those rights.”

Google is seeking a preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the Canadian order as it “violates principles of international comity, particularly since the Canadian plaintiffs never established any violation of their rights under U.S. law.”

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