About the Issue

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In the age of big data, algorithmic analysis, and “smart” everything, from watches and phones to cars and cities, understanding and protecting privacy is inescapably intertwined with understanding the ways new technologies are designed, and the ways they work.

Our Work

Supreme Court of Canada

CCLA’s work on privacy and emerging technology has included important court interventions, appearances before parliamentary committees, public talks and education conferences.

Our Impact

CCLA’s strategic intervention in litigation has helped to ensure that privacy and free speech rights are protected online. Our interventions in a number of online defamation cases have helped to shape this area of the law by ensuring that online anonymity cannot be circumvented without compelling reasons. We were also an important voice in the Supreme Court of Canada’s hearing of Crookes v. Newton, a case that dealt with the effect of hyperlinks in defamation suits, and in the hearing of Baglow v. Smith, which dealt with the application of defamation law in the context of blogging.

In Focus

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CCLA has intervened to protect online anonymity in cases involving core freedom of speech rights.  In a case heard by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the former mayor of an Ontario municipality started a lawsuit against local bloggers who were critical of her work in office.  As part of the lawsuit, the mayor brought a motion asking the Court to order the known bloggers to reveal identifying information about other anonymous blogger(s). The CCLA intervened to argue that a high threshold should be met before the Court should order the release of this kind of information. The rights of citizens to comment on and criticize the performance of their public officials is of the utmost importance, and civil defamation suits should not be used as a way to silence this kind of expression. The defendants and the CCLA were successful; the Superior Court found that the mayor was not entitled to the identifying information because she had not established a case of defamation on the face of her claim. Importantly, the Court also noted that the bloggers had a reasonable expectation of anonymity since they did not have to identify themselves in order to participate in the blog.

Updates

CCLA at the Supreme Court: Journalistic Source Protection

May 16, 2019

Cara Zwibel Director of Fundamental Freedoms Program czwibel@ccla.org         Refusing to burn a confidential source is a hallmark of journalistic integrity.  But does Canadian law protect journalism confidentiality? That’s what we went to the Supreme Court of Canada to argue today. CCLA is before the Supreme Court of Canada today intervening in […]

CCLA Voices Concern Over Several Measures in Budget Bill

May 13, 2019

Executive Director and General Counsel, Michael Bryant, speaks on behalf of CCLA at the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs on May 7, 2019 considering Bill 100, An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact, amend and repeal various statutes.

In the fight for free speech, where does Facebook fit?

May 10, 2019

Cara Zwibel Director of Fundamental Freedoms Program czwibel@ccla.org         As an organization with a strong commitment to freedom of expression, CCLA has traditionally focused on prohibitions and restrictions on speech put in place by government or state institutions. We have challenged the breadth of hate speech and child pornography laws, advocated for […]

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