The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Developments in privacy law and writings of a Canadian privacy lawyer, containing information related to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (aka PIPEDA) and other Canadian and international laws.
The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.
For full contact information and a brief bio, please see David's profile.
The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.
This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
A friend just provided me with a copy of a recent decision of the Ontario Court of Justice considering the admissibility of information obtained without a warrant from the suspect's internet service provider, Bell. R. v. Cuttell is not on CanLii yet, but I've put a copy here.
The Court concluded there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in your account records, but this expectation can be destroyed by your ISP if their service agreement grants them wide latitude to hand over customer information. The judge accepts that a broadly-worded statement in Bell's contract with the customer might supplant the reasonable expectation of privacy. (I would also question whether a form contract that the customer likey has not read would be enough to mean that subjectively there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.)
In this case, there was no proof brought by the police that the Bell contract applied to this customer so a Charter breach was found.
The Court importantly notes that PIPEDA does not give the police the right to seek information and rejects every crown argument that the police may have had "lawful authority" in the circumstances.
But, in the end, the records were admissible as the police acted in good faith.
What is perhaps most interesting is that the Judge laments the fact that the increasing use of "we will disclose" language in ISP contracts tilt the balance of privacy away from individuals toward the police, without the ability of the Courts to impartially consider what is reasonable in the circumstances.
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