On October 14,2007, the police accidently killed Robert
Dziekański when they tried to subdue him with a taser in YVR
airport. Paul Pritchard witnessed the entire event and recorded it
on his cellphone. The police seized the cellphone and did not
release it until Pritchard threatened legal action.
The Braidwood Commission of
Inquiry released a final report that found the RCMP officers
involved in the tasering had deliberately misrepresented what
happened. Pritchard's video was instrumental in that finding
since it showed relatively clear evidence of the events.
More recently, Constable James Forcillo was
charged with second-degree murder after he repeatedly shot an
18-year-old boy holding a knife on a Toronto streetcar. Witnesses
recorded the shooting on their smartphone and released a copy to
the media, causing public outcry.
The popularity of smartphones has had a large impact on our
legal and political life. Smartphones allow most Canadians to
create relatively reliable evidence of important events.
Eyewitness testimony is not always
reliable. We have a tendency to remember events differently
than they actually happened. We can also take on false memories
through talking with other people about what happened.
In more extreme cases, people have actually confessed
to crimes that they did not commit. In about 25 percent of DNA
exoneration cases in the United States, the innocent accused had
made incriminating statements, given confessions, or pled
I spoke with Micheal Vonn, a lawyer and policy director of the
British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, about the use of
smartphones to capture police misconduct. According to Vonn,
smartphones have proven to be an important equalizer in police
complaint processes by providing complainants with clear and
objective evidence of what actually happened.
Smartphone videos have also changed the public discourse on
police misconduct. As explained by Vonn, "smartphone videos
have brought credibility to groups voicing concerns over police
misconduct and police oversight and moved the discussion away from
whether those groups are merely anti-police or are exaggerating the
extent of the problem".
The BCCLA continues to receive complaints of police officers
confiscating people's smartphones or asking them not to take
It is perfectly legal for someone to videotape police officers
with a smartphone so long as they do not interfere with the police
investigation and are not trespassing or breaking another law.
Sometimes police confiscate people's smartphones because
they contain important videos or pictures. According to Vonn, the
police "are not allowed to confiscate a smartphone unless they
have reason to believe that it contains important evidence and they
have reason to believe that you will destroy the
If you do not want the police to take your smartphone, then the
BCCLA suggests an easy solution: tell the police officer your
address in case they need to contact you and tell them that you
will keep the video safe in the meantime. That will give the police
time to seek a warrant they need your smartphone for their
The BCCLA has also
released a helpful app for British Columbians that provides
basic information on what you can and cannot do if the police
detain or arrest you. They also offer a useful "self
help"guide for civil
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.
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Software license agreements generally require the customer to pay fees for the software license and related services, which fees are usually based upon the duration of the license and the manner in which the customer is allowed to use the software, together with applicable taxes and withholdings.
In less than nine months, on July 1, 2017, persons affected by a contravention of Canada's anti-spam legislation will be able to invoke a private right of action to sue for compensation and potentially substantial statutory damages.
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