About the Issue
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.
CCLA’s work on privacy and emerging technology has included important court interventions, appearances before parliamentary committees, public talks and education conferences.
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.
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.
(Image: Big Brother Monitoring. Master Tux, Creative Commons) Human rights and privacy groups seek firmer ruling on bulk surveillance, appealing landmark judgment Following last year’s victory in which the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found the UK’s historic surveillance regime was illegal, a coalition of human rights groups, including CCLA, will today ask […]
CCLA is currently challenging the discriminatory religious symbols ban, Bill 21 in Quebec alongside the National Council of Canadian Muslims. We will keep this page up to date with events in the fight to stop this unjust law as it unfolds. June 19 2019 – Our request for a suspension is scheduled for July 9 […]
Bill 21, An Act Respecting the Laicity of the State, passed in the Quebec National Assembly this past weekend. Bill 21, of course, is the law that will ban Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and others who wear symbols of their faith from pursuing careers in numerous public sector jobs. CCLA and NCCM argue that Bill 21 […]