Privacy

The CCLA seeks to ensure that personal privacy is adequately respected by police when they are handling personal information. This is particularly important in the context of procedures that may result in the disclosure of personal information, such as background checks.

Privacy is part of the Public Safety program. You can find more information about it on its main program page.

CCLA concerned by Supreme Court judgment on police cell phone searches

By on December 11, 2014

The Supreme Court’s decision this morning in R. v. Fearon gives the police seemingly wide latitude to search cell phones – without warrants – upon individuals’ arrest.  The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is concerned that the judgment represents a significant blow to the privacy rights of average Canadians.  Searching cell phones or any personal digital device is not that same as searching a physical object or even a pat-down search or frisk;  rather, searching a cell phone can reveal intimate details about many aspects and spheres of an individual’s life and indeed, the phone can continue to generate evidence even after seizure.  The constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure is very clearly engaged, and CCLA had urged the court that, absent exigent circumstances, the police should get a warrant to search personal cell phones. Searching a cell phone upon arrest without a warrant, is in our view, akin to finding a house key in a pat down search and then using that key to conduct a warrantless search of the arrestee’s house. The Supreme Court has, in previous cases, excluded such privacy-sensitive contexts – including a person’s home – from warrantless post-arrest search powers. Finally, we are concerned that the majority’s instructions to the police are complicated, will be very difficult to both monitor and implement in practice, and do not account for the fundamental concern that police in the heat of the moment of arrest are not best-placed to determine whether the state interest in law enforcement outweighs the detrimental impact upon privacy in searching a personal cell phone. We agree with the minority opinion that once such a warrantless search occurs, there is little that can be done to remedy the privacy violation.

Over 30 years ago the Supreme Court of Canada held that, in general, police must get a warrant before they can forcibly invade a person’s privacy.  There are, however, exceptions to this rule, and searches of arrestees is one of them.  Generally, the police do not need a warrant to search a person who is under arrest, and regularly do look through arrestees’ bags and pockets to ensure officer safety and secure potential evidence.  Fifteen years ago this kind of search might turn up a wallet, some papers, maybe an address book.  Today, however, we can carry our entire digital existence – phone records, contact lists, emails, social media profiles, location records, photos and much more – in our pockets.  The privacy implications of giving police warrantless access to this information upon arrest are enormous.  In CCLA’s view, cell phones cannot be treated like the scraps of paper, notes or printed photos we carry in our pockets or knapsacks.  Rather, they are more like entirely distinct places – with vast amounts of personal information and correspondence and an unknown number of automatically-entered passwords that open doors to any number of linked accounts.

The CCLA appeared before both the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Fearon to argue that a cell phone is not like a wallet or papers you may carry in your purse – and the law should not treat it in the same way.  We urged that, absent exigent circumstances such as danger to life or imminent loss of evidence, the police should be required to get a warrant before searching a person’s hand-held electronic device. The vast, detailed, intensely personal information that can be accessed through our cell phones should not available for state inspection simply because an individual has been arrested and there may be evidence on his or her phone.  Warrants are democratic instruments essential for the protection of privacy – when possible, we should use them.

On December 11, the Supreme Court released their judgment in the case. While the majority of the Court recognized the cell phones do contain a significantly increased amount of personal, private information, they did not limit these searches to exigent circumstances.  Instead, the Court set out a test that, in CCLA’s view, opens the door to widespread warrantless cell phone searches upon arrest.  According to the majority, police may search cell phones incident to arrest where:

(1)         The arrest was lawful;

(2)         The search is truly incidental to the arrest in that the police have a reason based on a valid law enforcement purpose to conduct the search, and that reason is objectively reasonable. The valid law enforcement purposes in this context are:

(a)                      Protecting the police, the accused, or the public;

(b)                     Preserving evidence; or

(c)                      Discovering evidence, including locating additional suspects, in situations in which the investigation will be stymied or significantly hampered absent the ability to promptly search the cell phone incident to arrest;

(3)         The nature and the extent of the search are tailored to the purpose of the search; and

(4)         The police take detailed notes of what they have examined on the device and how it was searched.

The majority’s decision does make it clear that not all post-arrest cell phone searches will be justified.  The decision states, for example, that “a search of a cell phone incident to arrest will generally not be justified in relation to minor offences” and that, where there is no important law enforcement objective that would be served by a prompt cell phone search, the warrantless search will not be justifiable.

In CCLA’s view, however, it is very unclear how these restrictions will be applied in practice. As stated by the three dissenting justices, the majority’s approach “puts the balancing decision in the hands of the police”, who will be tasked with deciding “whether the law enforcement objectives clearly outweigh the potentially significant intrusion on privacy in the search of a personal cell phone …”  Arresting someone is not the same as charging them with a crime.  Many people who are arrested never even proceed to charges, let alone end up in trial in front of a judge.  CCLA will continue to advocate a better understanding of the privacy implications of new technology in the context of policing.

To read CCLA’s factum at the Supreme Court click here.
To read the Supreme Court’s decision click here.

To read CCLA’s factum at the Court of Appeal click here.
To read the Court of Appeal’s decision click here.

 

‘On the Record’ Workshop Series: Spreading the word about police record checks

By on September 24, 2014

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society of Ontario are teaming up to deliver educational workshops on police record checks across the province of Ontario!

Police records present numerous barriers for individuals who have had past police contact or justice involvement and who are attempting to find employment, housing and even treatment. Traditionally in Ontario non-conviction and police contact records have been routinely disclosed on police record checks – including information from non-criminal calls to 9-1-1, apprehensions under the Mental Health Act, suspect or person of interest designations, and charges that resulted in withdrawal, acquittal or other non-conviction dispositions.

The On the Record series aims to provide helpful information, tailored to two audiences:

1) those who help or work with people who may be impacted by police records (i.e. direct social service providers, legal/court professionals, government etc.) and,

2) Those who use police record checks in hiring or volunteer screening – HR professionals, Volunteer Organizations/Coordinators and Employers.

The workshop, delivered by Abby Deshman of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Jacqueline Tasca of the John Howard Society of Ontario, will provide:

  • An overview the overlapping legal and policy frameworks governing police record checks in Ontario, including the different types police records, police databases and police record checks available in the province.
  • A summary of research results that give insight into how police records, and in particular non-conviction records, are impacting individuals in a wide range of non-criminal processes.

Employers and HR professionals will also receive information regarding:

  • Best practices around the use of police record checks in hiring.
  • How to know when to request a police record check, and how to determine what level of check is necessary, and how to understand a positive police record check; and,
  • Tips for ensuring that human resource policies and practices are compliant with privacy rights and human rights.

This series is funded through a grant from the Law Foundation of Ontario. To find out more about CCLA’s work on record checks, visit www.ccla.org/recordchecks.

UPCOMING SCHEDULED SESSIONS

Contact the person identified under each session to register, or if you would like to host your own On the Record session, please contact Jacqueline Tasca at jtasca@johnhoward.on.ca

SUDBURY

On the Record: Police Record Checks in Ontario

Workshop geared towards: Social service providers and legal professionals

When: October 28, 2014 10:30 am – 12 pm

Where: Marguerite Lougheed Community Centre, 328 Albert Street, Sudbury (formerly St. Clement’s Church)

Light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

*Free parking available at corner lot on Albert St. just past the community centre

To register: Phone: 705.673.9576

On the Record: Understanding Police Records and their Impacts, and Best Hiring/Screening Practices

Workshop geared towards: Employers, HR Professionals, Volunteer Coordinators/Managers

When: October 28, 2014   1:00pm-2:30pm

Where: Marguerite Lougheed Community Centre, 328 Albert Street, Sudbury (formerly St. Clement’s Church)

Light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

*Free parking available at corner lot on Albert St. just past the community centre

To register: Phone: 705.673.9576

TORONTO

On the Record: Understanding Police Records and their Impacts, and Best Hiring/Screening PracticesWorkshop geared towards: Employers, HR Professionals, Volunteer Coordinators/ManagersWhen: October 30, 2014   10:00am-12:00pm

Where: John Howard Society of Toronto, 1669 Eglinton Ave West, Toronto, Ontario M6E 2H4

 Free parking available at nearby plazas

Light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

To register:

Contact Angeline to register AWong@johnhowardtor.on.ca

On the Record: Police Record Checks in OntarioWorkshop geared towards: Social service providers and legal professionalsWorkshop geared towards: Employers, HR Professionals, Volunteer Coordinators/Managers

When: October 30, 2014   12:30pm-3:00pm

Where: John Howard Society of Toronto, 1669 Eglinton Ave West, Toronto, Ontario M6E 2H4

 Free parking available at nearby plazas

Light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

To register:

Contact Angeline to register AWong@johnhowardtor.on.ca

DURHAM

On the Record: Understanding Police Records and their Impacts, and Best Hiring/Screening PracticesWorkshop geared towards: Employers, HR Professionals, Volunteer Coordinators/Managers

When: November 4, 2014   10:45am-1:00pm

Where:  Honest Lawyer Restaurant Whitby, 75 Consumers Drive, Whitby, ON

Light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

To register: Please register at the following link

http://philipjwsmith.com/on-the-record-workshop-series-workshop-registration-form/

On the Record: Police Record Checks in OntarioWorkshop geared towards: Social service providers and legal professionals

When: October 30, 2014   12:30pm-3:00pm

Where: John Howard Society of Toronto, 1669 Eglinton Ave West, Toronto, Ontario M6E 2H4

Free parking available at nearby plazas

Light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

To register:

Contact Angeline to register AWong@johnhowardtor.on.ca

YORK REGION / SIMCOE

On the Record: Understanding Police Records and their Impacts, and Best Hiring/Screening Practices

Workshop geared towards: Employers, HR Professionals, Volunteer Coordinators/Managers

When: November 7, 2014   10:00am-12:00pm

Where:  Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, Board Room;   120 Bayview Parkway, Newmarket, ON, L3Y 4X1

Light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

To register:

Contact Melanie to register:

E: admin@johnhowardyorkregion.on.ca  or T:  905-895-9943 ext 200

On the Record: Understanding Police Records and their Impacts, and Best Hiring/Screening Practices

Workshop geared towards: Frontline social service providers and legal professionals

When: November 7, 2014   12:30pm-3:00pm

Where:  Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, Board Room;   120 Bayview Parkway, Newmarket, ON, L3Y 4X1

Light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

To register:

Contact Melanie to register:

E: admin@johnhowardyorkregion.on.ca  or T:  905-895-9943 ext 200

PAST SESSIONS

THUNDER BAY

On the Record: Police Record Checks in OntarioWorkshop geared towards: Social service providers and legal professionalsWhen: September 25, 2014, 1:00 pm – 3:00pmWhere: John Howard Society of Thunder Bay, 315 S Syndicate Ave, Thunder Bay, P7E 1E2

To register:

Phone: 807 623 5355 ext 513

Email: cknorr@johnhowardtbay.on.ca

On the Record: Understanding Police Records and their Impacts, and Best Hiring/Screening PracticesWorkshop geared towards:Employers, HR Professionals, Volunteer Coordinators/ManagersWhen:September 26, 2014, 10:00 am- 12:00pmWhere: Ka-Na-Chi-Hih, 1700 Dease Street, Thunder Bay, ON, P7C 5H4

To register:

Phone: 807 623 5355 ext 513

Email: cknorr@johnhowardtbay.on.ca

OTTAWA

 

On the Record: Understanding Police Records and their Impacts, and Best Hiring/Screening PracticesWorkshop geared towards:Employers, HR Professionals, Volunteer Coordinators/ManagersWhen: September 30, 2014, 12:00pm-1:30pm

Where: Community Employment Resource Centre, 415 Hazeldean Road Kanata, ON, K2L 4C6

Light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

To register:

Call: 613-828-2123

On the Record: Police Record Checks in OntarioWorkshop geared towards: Social service providers and legal professionalsWhen: September 30, 2014, 2:30pm-4:00pmWhere: Community Employment Resource Centre, 415 Hazeldean Road Kanata, ON, K2L 4C6

Light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

To register:

Call 613-828-2123

 

LONDON & AREA

 

On the Record: Police Record Checks in OntarioWorkshop geared towards: Social service providers and legal professionalsWhen:October 8, 2014. 10:00am-12:00pmWhere: Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, Community Centre, 326 Chippewa Road, Muncey, Ontario N0L 1Y0
Light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

To register:

Contact Danielle to register

T: 519-438-4168 ext.227

Email: dgrosbeck@jhslondon.on.ca

On the Record: Understanding Police Records and their Impacts, and Best Hiring/Screening PracticesWorkshop geared towards:Employers, HR Professionals, Volunteer Coordinators/ManagersWhen:October 8, 2014. 12:30pm-3:00pmWhere: Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, Community Centre, 326 Chippewa Road, Muncey, Ontario N0L 1Y0
Light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

To register:

Contact Danielle to register

T: 519-438-4168 ext.227

Email: dgrosbeck@jhslondon.on.ca

 

On the Record: Police Record Checks in OntarioWorkshop geared towards: Social service providers and legal professionalsWhen:October 9, 2014. 10:00am-12:00pmWhere: Goodwill Industries, 255 Horton Street, London, ON N6B 1L1, Conference Centre room: 3rd floor

Light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

To register:

Contact Ana Rojas

T: 519-438-4168 ext.229

Email: arojas@jhslondon.on.ca

On the Record: Understanding Police Records and their Impacts, and Best Hiring/Screening PracticesWorkshop geared towards:Employers, HR Professionals, Volunteer Coordinators/ManagersWhen:October 9, 2014, 12:30pm-3:00pmWhere:  Goodwill Industries, 255 Horton Street, London, ON N6B 1L1, Conference Centre room: 3rd floor 

Light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

To register:

Contact Ana Rojas

T: 519-438-4168 ext.229

Email: arojas@jhslondon.on.ca

 

 

CCLA Applauds Revised Ontario Record Check Guidelines

By on July 16, 2014

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association applauds today’s release of revised police record check guidelines for Ontario.

The revised guidelines are the result of two years of collaboration and dialogue between the CCLA and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), including significant evidentiary research and community consultation. In CCLA’s view, the guidelines, which eliminate the disclosure of police contact and drastically restrict the disclosure of non-conviction records, constitute a major step forward in the effort to make Ontario’s record check system fairer and more just.

“Police record checks, and in particular the release of unproven allegations or mental health information, has been a priority issue for the CCLA for several years,” said Sukanya Pillay, CCLA General Counsel. “An increasing number of Canadian organizations – employers, volunteer managers, educational institutions, licensing bodies and governments – are incorporating police record checks into their hiring and management practices. These record checks frequently disclose information well beyond criminal convictions; depending on the police service, mental health apprehensions, records of suicide attempts, complaints where charges were never laid, withdrawn charges, acquittals. As a result of unnecessary record checks and disclosure of non-conviction information, individuals across Canada are losing jobs, educational opportunities, volunteer placements, and are withdrawing from full participation in society.”

The CCLA has now published two reports on police record checks. Our most recent report, released in May 2014 report and entitled False promises, hidden costs: the case for reframing employment and volunteer police record check practices in Canada, is available at www.ccla.org/recordchecks/.

“Our recent report questioned the value of widespread police record checks and shone a light on the damaging individual and societal consequences of Ontario’s record check practices,” said Abby Deshman, CCLA Program Director and primary report author. “In it we outlined a series of short- and long-term recommendations aimed at reintroducing perspective, balance and fairness to police record checks. The changes introduced today by the OACP follow CCLA’s recommendations for police services. We applaud the OACP for their strong leadership and action in this area.”

“While this is a major step forward and an accomplishment to be celebrated, there is more work to be done. Individual police services must choose to adopt these best practice guidelines. Private and public sector employers and volunteer organizations must critically reflect on why they are requesting this information, and in CCLA’s view dramatically reduce the demand for record checks. Ultimately, we believe that legislative change – and a centralized screening agency for vulnerable sector checks – is necessary to ensure consistent, fair treatment and we have called on the provincial government to take action.”

A Win at the Supreme Court on Internet Privacy

By on June 13, 2014

The Supreme Court of Canada has rendered its decision in R. v. Spencer, a case that considered the privacy interests that an individual has in Internet activities and affirmed that anonymity is a key component of the right to privacy.  The Court also clarified a point of long-standing disagreement between privacy advocates and law enforcement authorities, and concluded – unanimously – that police require judicial authorization to obtain subscriber information from internet service providers.  CCLA believes that the decision sends a clear signal that privacy rights exist in the digital world.

The  decision arose out of the case of Mr. Spencer, who was charged with possessing and distributing child pornography.  The police had information about an internet protocol (IP) address that had shared what was believed to be child pornography.  The police sought information about the subscriber associated with the IP address Mr. Spencer’s internet service provider.  The law enforcement request for information was purportedly made pursuant to a provision of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which is privacy legislation directed at protection of privacy in the private sector (i.e. information held by private entities).  The information was handed over without a production order (an order that is similar to a search warrant) and the police then sought and obtained a search warrant to enter Mr. Spencer’s home and search his computer.

The Supreme Court had to address the question of whether the request for information from the internet service provider was a “search” within the meaning of s. 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  The Court noted that while the basic information being sought (name, address and telephone number) appears mundane, the information that it would reveal about an individual – in particular, their activities online, was substantial.  The Court also laid out that the nature of the privacy interest at issue in the case had three different aspects: privacy as secrecy, privacy as control and privacy as anonymity.  The Court’s recognition of anonymity as a concept protected by section 8 echoed the arguments made in CCLA’s factum and may have wide-reaching implications for future cases.

The Court also had to consider whether Mr. Spencer had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the information that was obtained by the police (and the information that it revealed).  The Court considered the impact of PIPEDA as well as the terms of service governing the relationship between the internet service provider and its customers.  It concluded that these factors supported the existence of a reasonable expectation of privacy.  In dealing with the proper interpretation of PIPEDA, the Court held that the legislation does not allow the police to simply obtain information which is subject to a reasonable expectation of privacy, merely by asking.  In other words, PIPEDA does not create any search or seizure powers.

The Court concluded that Mr. Spencer’s Charter rights were violated but held that the evidence, on the facts of this case, should nevertheless be admitted.  It considered that the police did not act with wilful or flagrant disregard of the Charter and that the belief that they were acting lawfully was a reasonable one.  Given the seriousness of the offences, the Court held that it would bring the administration of justice into disrepute to exclude the evidence.

The implications of the decision are substantial, and may play a significant role in CCLA’s ongoing Charter challenge to PIPEDA.  In particular, the Court’s decision confirms CCLA’s view that PIPEDA is legislation to protect privacy, and cannot be used to undermine it.  CCLA was represented by Anil Kapoor and Lindsay Daviau of Kapoor Barristers.

Read the Court’s decision in R. v. Spencer here.

Read the CCLA’s factum in the case here.

CCLA Appears Before Committee Considering Bill C-13 (Protecting Canadians From Online Crime Act)

By on June 6, 2014

On June 5, 2014 CCLA appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights as part of its consideration on Bill C-13, the government’s so-called cyberbullying legislation.  Other than creating a new offence to deal with the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, the Bill has very little to do with cyberbullying.  It includes a number of new investigative powers available to police and other public officers that may be applied to all offences.  CCLA has a number of concerns about the Bill and highlighted these concerns in its testimony.  In particular, CCLA believes the new offence (non-consensual distribution of intimate images) may be addressing a gap in the current law, but is draft in a way that is overly broad and unreasonably restricts freedom of expression.  CCLA also takes issue with a number of the new investigative powers, some of which allow access to a detailed profile of an individual’s activities on the low standard of “reasonable grounds to suspect”.  In addition, the powers do not come with appropriate accountability and transparency mechanisms.

Read the notes from CCLA’s presentation before the Committee.

Read CCLA’s written submissions to the Committee.

Watch the Committee’s meeting from June 5, 2014.

CCLA Reacts to Nomination of new Privacy Commissioner

By on May 29, 2014

Prime Minister Harper announced his nomination of Daniel Therrien as the next Privacy Commissioner of Canada.  Mr. Therrien is currently serving as the Assistant Deputy Attorney General, Public Safety, Defence and Immigration Portfolio, at the Department of Justice and the appointment will have to be approved by resolution of the House of Commons and Senate.   The nomination will also be referred for consideration to the appropriate Standing Committee.

The importance of privacy issues in Canada is increasing exponentially and the Privacy Commissioner plays a vital role in safeguarding the privacy of Canadians.  CCLA believes that any candidate for this important post must have a long-standing dedication to the protection of privacy as well as a firm and demonstrated commitment to the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  A new Privacy Commissioner must have a demonstrated understanding of the full scope of privacy rights in the digital age as well as a demonstrated willingness to act to protect these rights.  In addition, it should be made clear what steps can and will be taken in the event that any conflicts arise as a result of former positions held by an individual in the post of Privacy Commissioner.  To the extent any past work might conflict with or hinder the ability of the Privacy Commissioner to fulfill his/her role, this must be addressed.  The process considering the appointment of a new Privacy Commissioner must bear all of these factors in mind.

CCLA supports students to launch court challenge of mandatory prom Breathalyzer

By on May 21, 2014

Recently the Canadian Civil Liberties Association wrote to Northern Secondary School outlining the organization’s concerns with the school’s plans to make every student entering the prom undergo a Breathalyzer test.  On Tuesday, May 20th, CCLA-cooperating pro bono lawyers filed an application in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice requesting a declaration that the proposed policy violates students’ constitutional rights.  The applicants are two students currently enrolled at the school.

Read a copy of the Notice of Application.

CCLA Challenges Federal Privacy Legislation

By on May 21, 2014

Click here to read the Toronto Star‘s front page coverage of CCLA’s challenge.

CCLA is bringing an Application in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice to challenge parts of Canada’s federal private-sector privacy legislation, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).  This is the law that regulates how personal information is collected, used and disclosed by private commercial organizations.  It is part of the scheme that has allowed government institutions to access personal information from telecommunications companies and internet service providers on a massive scale, and CCLA believes the law is overly broad and violates fundamental rights.

Why is CCLA bringing a lawsuit to challenge PIPEDA?

CCLA believes that our current privacy legislation, PIPEDA,  has not kept pace with modern technology, because it enables too much information sharing by the private sector to government, and that it may have significant and adverse impacts on people’s lives.  Information gathered by the government may be used for the purposes of investigating and laying criminal charges and may also be shared with foreign governments.  Once this information is shared with governments outside of Canada, we effectively lose control over how and why it is used.  Furthermore, the current provisions may allow government to do an end run around warrant requirements.

CCLA’s lawsuit aims to strike down some provisions of the privacy legislation so that the law can be changed in a manner that is more protective of individual rights and freedoms.

When can my telecommunications or internet service provider hand my personal information over to government?

The general rule is that your information cannot be disclosed to others without you knowing about it and giving your consent.  However, there are some big exceptions to this rule. Provisions of PIPEDA allow information to be disclosed to a government institution (including law enforcement agencies) for purposes of national security and the enforcement of any law of Canada, any province or a foreign jurisdiction.  Law enforcement agencies are relying heavily on private corporations like telecom companies and internet service providers to gather information about Canadians and are frequently doing so without judicial oversight and with little transparency or accountability.  In light of recent revelations that government institutions requested personal information from telecommunications providers over 1 million times in a one year period, CCLA is standing up for the privacy rights of Canadians and challenging these laws.

Does the government need a warrant to get this information?

A warrant or court order is usually necessary before law enforcement agencies can obtain access to personal information in the hands of an organization.  However, law enforcement and telecommunications providers have taken the position that basic subscriber information (customer name and address) is not private and that a warrant is therefore unnecessary.

While the information usually found in a phonebook is likely not considered confidential or sensitive, associating a name and address with an individual Internet protocol (IP) address, may reveal many intimate details about an individual’s online activities and about them personally.  It remains unclear precisely what information is being handed over by telecommunications and internet service providers to government institutions, absent a warrant, but CCLA is concerned about the massive scale of the information exchange and has decided to take action.

CCLA launches new report on police record checks

By on May 17, 2014

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) has released a report, False promises, hidden costs: the case for reframing employment and volunteer police record check practices in Canada, questioning the value of widespread police record checks and shining a light on the damaging individual and societal consequences of current practices.

An increasing number of Canadian organizations – employers, volunteer managers, educational institutions, licensing bodies and governments -incorporate police record checks into their hiring and management practices. Police forces across the country run millions of record checks per year, and disclose information that goes far beyond convictions and formal findings of guilt.  A wide range of non-conviction information – including records of suicide attempts, complaints where charges were never laid, withdrawn charges and acquittals – is regularly disclosed on Canadian police record checks. New audio recordings documenting numerous individuals’ personal experiences of discrimination and exclusion are also being released today.

The report outlines a series of short- and long-term recommendations to provincial, territorial and federal governments; police services and police service boards; to business and non-profit organizations; third-party record check companies; and privacy commissioners, and human rights tribunals and commissions, aimed at reintroducing perspective and balance to the societal use of police record checks.

Take action on non-conviction record disclosure. Visit our website to read the full report; listen to first-hand testimony of Canadians impacted by non-conviction record checks; download a template to help you write to your local police service; and sign CCLA’s petition calling for human rights and privacy protection for employees, legislative prohibitions on the disclosure of non-conviction information, and a centralized screening mechanism for the vulnerable sector. 

On Tuesday, May 20, at 12 p.m., CCLA will host a discussion of False promises, hidden costs, at our offices (215 Spadina Ave., Suite 210, Toronto, ON), featuring Abby Deshman and CCLA General Counsel Sukanya Pillay. Media and the public are invited to attend and ask questions about non-conviction record disclosure and the report. Also speaking at the event will be John Howard Society of Ontario (JHSO) Centre of Research, Policy & Program Development Director Michelle Keast. JHSO has released its own report, Help Wanted*: Reducing Barriers for Ontario’s Youth with Police Records, from the John Howard Society of Ontario’s Centre of Research, Policy & Program Development, which exposes the systemic exclusion of youth (15-29) with police records from the Ontario labour market.

CCLA objects to mandatory prom Breathalyzer

By on May 15, 2014

On Friday May 9th the Canadian Civil Liberties Association wrote to the principal at Northern Secondary School, objecting to a proposed policy that would make all students submit to a Breathalyzer test in order to enter prom.  While school authorities do have an obligation to provide a safe and secure learning environment, they also have obligations to respect the constitutional rights of their students, including the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. The CCLA believes that these searches, which would be based on generalized suspicion and not individualized observations of particular students, would be unconstitutional.

Read the letter from CCLA here.

Read an article by CCLA Education Director Danielle McLaughlin on why prom is no place for a breathalyzer.