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Business Class actions Intellectual property Privacy

Monetizing data, without consent

You can still download the application if you want. But if you believe what Kyle Zak has to say about it, it’s not something you would do. Not unless you don’t mind the trade-off between ease-of-use and the reams of information you will allegedly provide to the popular audio maker Bose Corp.

The lawsuit filed by Zak against Bose is the latest to allege companies of surreptitiously tracking consumers, without their consent, to collect data and then to either solicit more business or sell it to third parties.

Early this year Ottawa-based sex toy maker We-Vibe settled a privacy lawsuit for $5 million after a line of its vibrators were found to have secretly collected and transmitted “highly sensitive information” about consumers without their knowledge or consent.…

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Canada Intellectual property Privacy

Ashley Madison agrees to US$1.7 million settlement

A month after the parent company of the controversial adult dating website Ashley Madison settled a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and state charges over the 2015 data breach that exposed the personal data of more than 36 million users and highlighted the site’s unfair and deceptive practices, the firm is now trying to thwart 20 class actions against it by invoking online arbitration agreements the plaintiffs signed when they subscribed to its matchmaking services.

Just before the Christmas holidays, Toronto-based Avid Life Media Inc. (ALM) agreed to pay US$1.6 million and implement a comprehensive data-security program, including third-party assessments, to settle claims by the FTC who worked in collaboration with 13 U.S. states. According to the FTC complaint, until August 2014, operators of the site “lured” customers, including 19 million Americans, with fake profiles of women designed to convert them into paid members.…

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Access to justice Privacy Quebec

Quebec chips away at government transparency

Quebec, once a pioneer that lead the movement towards greater government transparency, is now among the least transparent provinces in Canada after successive provincial governments introduced more than 150 legislative exemptions that undermined the province’s access to information legislation, according to a recently published comprehensive report by Quebec’s Commission d'accès à l'information.

With Quebec ranking 10th out of 14 jurisdictions in Canada, and 57th in the world, behind Honduras and Romania, the Quebec government should overhaul the provincial access to information legislation to compel all public bodies, even those partially financed by the provincial government, to be subjected to the access to information law, noted the 214-page, five-year report that issued 67 recommendations.…

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Canada Privacy

Federal privacy watchdog examines consent model

The consent model, the cornerstone behind the federal legislation that governs how private sector organizations may collect, use or disclose personal information in the course of commercial activities, is under the microscope after the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) published a consultation paper that examines its viability in today’s digital information ecosystem.

But privacy experts are skeptical that the consultation will lead to any tangible actions in the future. They point to the Digital Privacy Act, which received royal assent more than a year ago, yet is still not in force because the federal government has yet to complete the drafting of data breach notification and reporting regulations. …

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Business Canada Intellectual property Privacy

Health & life insurance industry intend to ignore privacy commissioner’s recommendations over genetic testing

A call by Canada’s privacy watchdog to the life and health insurance industry to voluntarily refrain from requesting clients for access to existing genetic test results is going to be ignored, setting the stage for a divisive debate over access and the use of such personal information.

After consulting stakeholders, commissioning research papers, and holding roundtables in the area of genomics and privacy, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada issued an eight-page policy statement asking the health and life insurance industry to extend their decade-long voluntary ban against asking applicants or existing policy holders to undergo genetic testing. More controversially, the OPC is also asking the industry to extend the moratorium to applicants who have already taken genetic tests. But the OPC’s policy statement is not definitive. Recognizing that the state of medical technology is changing rapidly, it admits that its position should be reviewed periodically.

“The thing that really jumped at me is that the OPC’s finding is preliminary, qualified, and based on its own research,” noted privacy lawyer Daniel Michaluk.…

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Business Canada Charter of Rights and Freedoms Legal Practice Management Privacy Supreme Court of Canada Weekend reads

Workplace privacy: “People don’t understand”

Workplace privacy, an issue few seriously thought about even a decade ago, has become a conundrum for employers. The ubiquitous presence of mobile technology, the explosive evolution of social media coupled with shifting and seemingly contradictory attitudes towards privacy as well as an evolving legal landscape have left in-house counsel in a quandary. Even outside of work, questions linger around the scope of employee privacy and the extent to which employers can keep tabs on employees.

“Privacy is on people’s minds,” says Robert Weir, an employment lawyer who led the seminar. “People don’t understand it, don’t get it.”

The privacy legal environment in Canada is bewildering. Privacy is governed by a patchwork of privacy legislation, individual employment contracts, and Charter rights that have sought to strike the appropriate balance between employers’ rights to monitor employees and employees’ rights to privacy.…

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Canada Intellectual property Legislation Privacy

Canada’s privacy commissioner calls into question ombudsman model

Canada's privacy commissioner, never fearful of taking on industry giants, is showing just as much audacity taking on her political taskmasters.

Stoddart is disappointed that a statutory five-year review of the legislation governing federally-regulated private-sector organizations, scheduled to have taken place in 2011, has yet to be launched. The Privacy Commissioner of Canada is just as disappointed by amendments introduced to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), tabled as Bill C-12 last fall.

"I am very, very disappointed that we're not moving ahead with privacy reform issues. They're long overdue,'' said Stoddart.…

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Business Intellectual property Internet Legal Practice Management Privacy

New Anti-Spam law prohibits everything except for exceptions

The new anti-spam and anti-spyware legislation has such a broad reach and is so complex that organizations that conduct business online will need to reassess their business practices for sending commercial electronic messages or face stiff new penalties that can go up to $1 million for individuals and $10 million for corporations for each violation, according to experts.

“It’s a very broad statute,” remarked Michael Fekete, a partner with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP who practices in information technology, e-commerce and privacy. “It just doesn’t cover what we would normally refer to as spam but any commercial electronic message, with very few exceptions. It also covers a lot of things including spyware but even there the provisions just don’t deal with malicious software code that might be installed surreptitiously. It covers the installation of any computer program on another’s person’s computing device,” including smart phones.…

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Business Canada Privacy

Privacy rights overlooked in bankruptcies and insolvencies

Eight years after the federal government introduced legislation that applies to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information in the course of any private sector commercial activity, corporate lawyers pay little heed to privacy rights in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings. “Candidly, we on the insolvency side pay lip service to privacy,” acknowledged Kenneth Kraft, a partner with the financial services group at Heenan Blaikie, specializing in insolvency and finance. “It’s not something that we give much thought to.” But that is likely to change. The recent uproar that led popular social-networking website Facebook to back down from changing its terms of service, which would have given the company exclusive rights to all user content even if a user decided to delete their account, highlighted growing consumer awareness over privacy rights. Coupled with the economic downturn that is widely expected to see a flood of bankruptcies and insolvencies, and privacy experts expect that there will be increased focus on what will be done with the personal information in the hands of bankrupt entities. “Privacy is an important consideration in a bankruptcy and insolvency situation because the laws applicable to personal information continue to apply to the assets of the bankrupt…

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