SCAN_logoTight.jpeg BLOGARHYTHMS>>> Privacy rights buried in fine print

Geist-48X68.jpgPosted by Michael Geist

Scott McNealy, the former CEO of Sun Microsystems, has achieved considerable notoriety for having warned Internet users ten years ago that "you have no privacy, get over it." Recent headlines suggest that the Ontario courts have adopted those sentiments, as two recent decisions involving the disclosure of subscriber information by Internet service providers confirmed that revealing personal information to law enforcement without a warrant is permitted under Canadian privacy law.

While some view these cases as providing conclusive evidence that Canadians enjoy little privacy in identifying data such as customer name and address information, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) argues that a closer look at the decisions and industry practices reveal that the issue is not entirely settled. Both recent decisions involved disclosures of customer name and address information in suspected child pornography cases. In one case, R. v. Wilson, the court ruled that the data was not particularly sensitive and that the customer had no reasonable expectation of privacy. Moreover, the customer had agreed to Bell Canada’s Privacy Policy that permits the disclosure of personal information in certain circumstances.

In the second case, R. v. Vasic, the court arrived at a different conclusion on the sensitivity of the data. Click here to read more of Michael's blog.

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