The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Yves Faguy

Privacy

Cambridge Analytica: The legal implications for Facebook and everyone else

By Yves Faguy March 21, 2018 21 March 2018

Cambridge Analytica: The legal implications for Facebook and everyone else

Facebook is clearly in trouble over allegations that the social media giant has been derelict in its duty to protect its users’ privacy, in the wake of revelations that the British firm Cambridge Analytica harvested information, without permission from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million of its users.  Facebook is now facing multiple investigations in several countries -- never mind the lawsuits piling in.

The US Federal Trade Commission looking into whether Facebook violated its 2011 settlement by allowing the misuse of user data ostensibly collected for academic research.

In the UK, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been personally summoned to appear before a House of Commons committee to give testimony on the latest developments in the matter.

The EU is hinting, too, that major fines may be on the way.

And now the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is now launching its own investigation.

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Conflicts of laws

The new censors

By Yves Faguy March 14, 2018 14 March 2018

The new censors

Liberal democracies are wrestling with a crisis of confidence in freedom of speech.

It’s a sentiment that has been tracking alongside other worries – about erosions to the rule of law, reports of declines in civil liberties in many parts of the world, and distress over the torrent of invective that social media has unleashed. Civility is out the window. Women and Muslims are disproportionately the targets of trolls and haters. The loudest individuals will hijack debate and intimidate others into silence.

Caught in middle of all this are the new arbiters of acceptable conduct online – principally Facebook, Twitter, and Google.

It’s a role they would prefer not to have, after years of holding the internet up as the modern public square where views can be freely exchanged.

Facebook has always sold itself as a neutral platform for information. But the social media giant has been caught wrong-footed in a number of recent instances. In the lead-up to the 2016 U.S. election, it was accused of tweaking its algorithm to bury conservative viewpoints, then later of enabling the spread of right-wing misinformation. It recently announced plans to overhaul its newsfeed by letting users rank the credibility of news sources. Meanwhile it is accused of promoting Western-centric bias on its trending topics.

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Criminal justice

Report card on Canada's criminal justice system

By Yves Faguy March 6, 2018 6 March 2018

Report card on Canada's criminal justice system

Put together by Benjamin Perrin and Richard Audas, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute report card paints a not-so-pretty picture of Canada's criminal justice landscape, characterized  by "shockingly high rates of crime" in the territories, disproportionately high levels of Indigenous incarceration rates, lengthier court delays, fairness and access to justice indicators  getting worse in a number of provinces -- namely in Manitoba and Quebec.  Ontario has seen the biggest improvement in its ranking, while Quebec has slipped, and B.C. gets a particularly brutal review:

British Columbia’s criminal justice system significantly underperforms that of most other provinces on many measures. BC has one of the highest property crime rates among the provinces. It has the lowest weighted violent crime clearance rate (51.7 percent) and the lowest weighted non-violent crime clearance rate (20.4 percent) in Canada. The province has one of the highest rates of breach of probation in Canada and relatively high rates of failure to comply with court orders. Public perceptions of the police in British Columbia are below average, specifically in enforcing the law, ensuring public safety, satisfaction with public safety, providing information, being approachable, being fair, and responding promptly. Confidence in the police, justice system, and courts in BC is below average.

Read the whole report.

Source: Macdonald-Laurier Institute

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Trade

How to respond to Trump’s tariffs threats

By Yves Faguy March 6, 2018 6 March 2018

How to respond to Trump’s tariffs threats

Yesterday Donald Trump tweeted that his recently threatened steel/aluminum tariffs could be lifted if Canada and Mexico were to agree to a new NAFTA deal – trade apparently being a zero-sum game.

U.S. House  Speaker Paul Ryan also came down hard on Trump’s proposed tariffs, arguing they will lead to a trade war that is nobody’s interest: “We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan,” he said.  It seems Congressional Republicans are mounting an effort to stop Trump from implementing the tariffs

Now there appear to be signals from factions within the White House to weaken the tariffs. “Gary Cohn and other free-trade advocates inside the White House and the Treasury Department are mounting a last-ditch effort to blunt the impact of Trump’s head-turning decision,” Politico reports.

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Legal technology

Is arbitration the best way to resolve blockchain-based disputes?

By Yves Faguy March 6, 2018 6 March 2018

Is arbitration the best way to resolve blockchain-based disputes?

 

Will smart contracts really replace traditional legal agreements and courts with code?

Charlie Morgan discusses blockchain’s application to contract formation and execution, and warns that the challenge is in ensuring that rights and obligations contained in smart contracts have a sound legal basis and can be enforced in the real world.  Indeed, the potential for disputes remains very real.

Morgan then explores whether arbitration will become the forum of choice for resolving blockchain-based disputes:

Arbitration is a non-national and neutral dispute resolution forum which enables parties to nominate a tribunal of industry or technical specialists to efficiently and effectively resolve the different types of disputes that may arise from their relationship (which, as mentioned above, may include real world as well as digital world disputes, in each case ranging from a simple contract law claim to claims of a highly technical and complex nature).

The relative ease of cross-border enforcement of awards under the New York Convention also gives arbitration a huge advantage in the context of blockchain disputes, given the transnational nature of this technology and of the players involved in blockchain transactions.

But arbitration also offers a further material benefit in this context, compared to court litigation. Indeed, the inherent flexibility of the arbitral process (its procedure being tailored in material respects by the parties’ agreement) enables efficient conflict management approaches to be developed and for the dispute resolution process itself to harness the benefits of blockchain technology. This means that arbitration has the potential to keep pace with a new breed of disputes.

 

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