Not so fast. In 1999, the CEO of Sun
Microsystems famously said: "You have zero
privacy anyway. Get over it." The Supreme Court of
Canada apparently disagrees.
The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) released their decision
in R. v. Cole last week. While this does
stray from our usual review of intellectual property law, it is an
important decision impacting the overlapping areas of privacy and
technology. The SCC has decided that it's reasonable for
Canadians to expect privacy in the information contained on
computers used for personal purposes "at least where personal
use is permitted or reasonably expected." In this analysis,
ownership of the computer or laptop (or tablet, smartphone, etc.)
factors into the decision of what's reasonable, but is not
conclusive. Similarly, an employer's policies may be
taken into consideration, but won't be determinative. In other
words, regardless of who owns the hardware or what the policy says,
courts will consider "the totality of the circumstances in
order to determine whether privacy is a reasonable expectation in
the particular situation."
Even where the laptop is owned by the employer and the workplace
policy informs employees that their use will be monitored -
these factors may result in a lower expectation of privacy
but the expectation of privacy, according to the SCC, does not
disappear as easily as you might think.
Lessons for business? Employers must tread carefully and get
advice when monitoring or accessing the personal information of
employees on workplace computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones and
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
The Federal Court dismissed a motion by Apotex seeking particulars from Allergan's pleading relating to the prior art, inventive concept, promised utility and sound prediction of utility of the patents at issue.
Last year we saw the Canadian Courts release trademark decisions that granted a rare interlocutory injunction, issued jailed sentences for failure to comply with injunctive relief, grappled with trademark and internet issues...
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).