PIPEDA by the numbers: lessons for privacy law reform in Canada?PIPEDA by the numbers: lessons for privacy law reform in Canada?



The Federal Privacy Commissioner (OPC) just released the 2019-2020 Annual Report to Parliament on the Privacy Act and Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). In the report the OPC repeated the plea for reform of PIPEDA arguing that PIPEDA “is outdated and does not sufficiently deal with the digital environment to ensure appropriate regulation of new technologies.” The report also proposed major new remedial powers for the OPC. Interestingly, however, statistical data in the Annual Report illustrates how well PIPEDA appears to be working despite the lack of these remedial powers.

Alert: OSFI consultation on technologyAlert: OSFI consultation on technology



OSFI, the federal regulator of financial institutions such banks and insurance companies (FI’s), just released a discussion paper Developing financial sector resilience in a digital world: Selected themes in technology and related risks. The paper signals that the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions may eventually develop guidance to regulate digital risks such as cybersecurity, data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, third party ecosystems and data.

OSFI’s decision to even study regulating the use of technologies by Canadian FIs is something that needs to be on people’s radar.

Privacy developments: OPC Privacy Guide for Businesses and Ontario privacy consultationPrivacy developments: OPC Privacy Guide for Businesses and Ontario privacy consultation




Unquestionably, personal data is the economy’s “new oil” and Canadian organizations face compliance challenges like never before. It is noteworthy, therefore, that last week the federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) released a new Privacy Guide for Businesses (the Privacy Guide) and the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services released a public consultation on Reforming Privacy in Ontario’s Private Sector.

The Privacy Guide provides a high level overview of PIPEDA including the fair information principles.

The Privacy Guide has some interesting interpretations of PIPEDA.

EU-US Privacy Shield invalid: Schrems IIEU-US Privacy Shield invalid: Schrems II



In a bombshell decision in Schrems II released earlier today, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) found that the Commission decision finding the EU-US Privacy Shield to be adequate for transferring personal data to the U.S. is invalid. In what can only be seen as a double whammy, the CJEU also ruled that transferring personal data to the U.S. pursuant to standard data protection clauses adopted by the Commission could also be found to be invalid by local data protection authorities.

Court of Appeal rules CASL is constitutional and releases decision on the making available rightCourt of Appeal rules CASL is constitutional and releases decision on the making available right



The Federal Court of Appeal released two important decisions earlier today. First, in the Compufinder decision, it ruled that Canada’s anti-spam law (CASL) is constitutional. More specifically, if found that CASL does not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms right to freedom of expression. It also found that the law was intra vires within federal jurisdiction.

The finding that CASL dd not violated the Charter is a surprising one  to anyone who understands its scope and impacts on commercial speech.

Communications and copyright: IIC Canada ConferenceCommunications and copyright: IIC Canada Conference



I had the pleasure of speaking today at the Canadian Chapter of the International Institute of Communications annual conference, held virtually. I spoke chiefly about the following cases and developments:

Virtual IIC Canada Conference 2020Virtual IIC Canada Conference 2020



If you’re looking for a conference you can attend, the Virtual IIC Canada Conference may be for you. IIC Canada (the Canadian Chapter of the International Institute of Communications), brings together the communications industry, government and academia to analyze and debate Canadian and international trends in broadcasting, telecommunications, and media production.

The Annual Conference has been moved online and will take place May 28, 2020, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (ET).

Participants will hear presentations on:

    • Resolving the broadcasting crisis, Speakers, Richard, Stephen Armstrong
    • Contact tracing applications in pandemic times, Speaker, Pierre Trudel
    • Reimagining publicly-funded Canadian content, Speaker, Catalina Briceño
    • Indigenous media in Canada, Speaker, Monika Ille
    • Access to infrastructure for broadband deployment, Speaker, Leslie Milton
    • Mental health and the workplace, Speaker, Beth Beattie
    • Introduction and closing remarks, Grant Buchanan (IIC Canada Board Chair)

I will be speaking on the topic Communications Law and Copyright.

Artificial intelligence and intellectual property rights: the USPTO DABUS decisionArtificial intelligence and intellectual property rights: the USPTO DABUS decision



Is an invention autonomously generated by artificial intelligence patentable? This is a question that is being studied including by the United States Patent and Trade Mark Office (USPTO) which launched an investigation into issues associated with patenting artificial intelligence inventions. In the meantime, the USPTO just released a decision denying the application for a such a patent holding that under the U.S. patent law, 35 USC §§ 1 et seq. an inventor must be a natural person.

The decision was based on an application listing a single inventor with the given name “[DABUS]” and the family name “(Invention generated by artificial intelligence).”

COVID-19 and Canada’s anti-spam law CASLCOVID-19 and Canada’s anti-spam law CASL



Since going into social isolation and working from home I have been inundated by unsolicited emails. Many of these are from businesses I have never heard of or dealt with before. They offer goods or services that directly or indirectly relate to the COVID19 pandemic – how to get stuff delivered to your house, how to order that, how to entertain your kids, how to get virtual care, how to stay connected…. Many of these messages come from organizations trying to survive during this crisis, businesses announcing an adapted online or virtual business model, organizations truly trying to be helpful, or attempting to be relevant and discovered.

COVID-19 and privacy: artificial intelligence and contact tracing in combatting the pandemicCOVID-19 and privacy: artificial intelligence and contact tracing in combatting the pandemic



COVID-19 is having a debilitating effect on people’s health and their economic well-being. People are being forced by social distancing/isolating edicts and provincial emergency closure orders to stay home. As we slowly look like we may be emerging from the first wave of this health and economic emergency, people are rightly asking how we can gradually start to re-open the economy and resume “semblances of normalcy” without triggering substantial negative health rebounds or violating privacy norms or rights.

Governments, medical practitioners, researchers, policy-makers and others have been feverishly pursuing solutions to this challenge.