Dot Indicia

Dot”: Old English. A spot. A mark. A period used in applications as a name separator in files and web addresses. “Indicia”: Latin. Signs, indications, evidence. “Dot Indicia”: A personal blog examining marks and signs in our world about information, privacy and security.

Fearon: Police Searches & Mobile Phones

Today, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) issued a significant decision with respect to another piece of technology that we commonly carry on our person – mobile phones. The court in R. v. Fearon addressed whether the police can search such phones under the common law power to “search incident to a lawful arrest”. In doing so, the SCC has changed the common law with respect to such searches. Read more »

R.v Spencer: Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

Who knew six months could pass so quickly? The last blog post seemed like yesterday. After getting the shoulder better and renewing an intent to blog on a more regular basis, here is part 2 of the R v. Spencer blog post. In the last post, my focus was on the meaning of “lawful authority”. Here I want to focus on what I think is the more important aspect of the case  — the “reasonable expectation of privacy” in subscriber information. Read more »

Spencer, PIPEDA & Lawful Authority

A busy practice combined with a very bad shoulder injury will, regretfully, move blogging down the priority list. As we reach mid-2014 there have been a few interesting privacy law developments this year but, in my view, no real “blockbusters”. That all changed today. Today, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) came out with R v. Spencer. Digesting the decision like this takes time but, in a first read, what it says about lawful authority should make every private sector organization pause and re-examine its policy on cooperation with law enforcement. Read more »

Toronto Hydro Surveillance?

I can’t help but think there’s a movie in this somewhere. Love, devotion and allegations of betrayal are all present. Mix in smart meters and privacy and it becomes obvious why I’m blogging about this. It’s quite a fascinating story and it comes from, of all places, an unpublished Ontario IPC report, issued in September 2013, which was sent to me. The troubling bit is that there are more than a few questions that arise from the story.  Read more »

Health Privacy: Is PHIPA the only game in town?

There is a new and interesting decision out of Peterborough that raises but doesn’t answer a lot of questions. These questions revolve around the intersection of PHIPA, class action law and tort law. This is not something you see everyday although we may have to wait awhile before the dust (and the law) settles.  Read more »

FATCA: Charter Challenge?

The federal government has now solved a major problem for Canada’s banks by entering into an intergovernmental agreement concerning FATCA with the United States. The details about the privacy implications of FATCA can be found in previous posts herehere and here. With this agreement, the “end game” of FATCA compliance for Canada appears close at hand and there’s an important privacy lesson in it for Canadians.

Read more »

Yukon’s Health Information Legislation

yukon_wordmarkCanada’s Yukon Territory joins other domestic jurisdictions in moving to implement personal health information legislation. The Health Information Privacy and Management Act, introduced in November, is now in second reading. Leaving aside the trend to including EHR governance in personal health information statutes, there are some intriguing aspects to the bill not found in other statutes of a similar nature. Read more »

“Personal Information” in Canada: Is Change Coming?

Alberta’s PIPA was recently declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) in Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner) v. United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401. In reading the decision, the issue appears to be the broad, circular definition of “personal information” in that statute. Since a similar definition of personal information is found in the federal, BC and Manitoba statutes, the issue has national implications and goes far beyond labour unions and public picketing. How will Alberta legislature’s amend the statute? Would narrowing the definition of personal information in Canadian statutes fix the problem? If so, what would this mean for Canadian personal information protection law?

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Alberta PIPA: Unconstitutional…All of It.

The Supreme Court of Canada issued its decision in Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner) v. United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401  this morning. Obviously, digesting the reasons and implications — not limited to Alberta — will take some time, but three sentences at the end say it all:

“Both the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta and the Attorney General of Alberta stated in oral argument that if they were unsuccessful, they would prefer that PIPA be struck down in its entirety.  We agree… We would therefore declare PIPA to be invalid but suspend the declaration of invalidity for a period of 12 months to give the legislature time to decide how best to make the legislation constitutional.”  

Privacy, Computers & Search Warrants

The Supreme Court of Canada issued another privacy-related decision last week. Not only is it a significant refinement of search and seizure law it is also, with apologies to Pink Floyd, another “brick in the wall” with respect to building privacy rights in the context of computing devices. Read more »

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