CCLA’s Challenge to Privacy Legislation Continues

June 24, 2016

The Ontario Superior Court has rejected the Attorney General of Canada’s motion to strike CCLA’s application challenging provisions of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

In 2014, we launched a constitutional challenge to provisions of PIPEDA, arguing that the scheme has allowed government institutions to access personal information from telecommunications companies and internet service providers on a massive scale. We also argued that the total absence of meaningful accountability measures is unconstitutional, since many Canadians will never be told that their information has been accessed in this way. The application claims violations of ss. 7 and 8 of the Charter – the rights to life, liberty and security of the person, and the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. 

The Attorney General brought a motion to strike CCLA’s application, arguing that it was moot because of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R. v. Spencer, and that it did not disclose a reasonable cause of action. The Superior Court has roundly rejected these arguments, finding that the matter can proceed to a full application. The Court found that Spencer decided a narrow issue within the context of a criminal prosecution, and that CCLA’s challenge was “a systemic challenge to the scheme for disclosure to government institutions…Spencer did not deal with either intelligence gathering or accountability mechanisms.” As a result, both the s. 7 and s. 8 claims can proceed.

CCLA welcomes the Court’s decision and looks forward to pursuing the application to secure meaningful privacy rights and state accountability for Canadians. To date, CCLA has filed its application record and awaits the government’s responding evidence. 

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