Canadian courts appear to be signaling greater willingness to
award damages for privacy breaches. The Federal Court
recently awarded $20,000 in damages against one of Canada's
leading cable companies, Bell TV for conducting an unauthorized
credit check on a (now former) customer. Half the damage
award was exemplary damages to penalize Bell TV for its
conduct. A further $1000 was ordered for legal and other
PIPEDA requires knowledge and consent by an individual whose
personal information will be collected, used, or disclosed. In this
case, Bell TV performed a "hard pull" credit check on the
complainant, "Chitrakar" without his permission when he
ordered Bell's service. Chitrakar complained to Bell, who
apologised on Chitraker's voicemail and allowed Chitraker to
cancel his service, but refused to take further action, eventually
cutting off communication. Chitrakar filed a complaint with the
Privacy Commissioner, who found the circumstances of the breach
In granting damages, the Court gave privacy rights a broad scope
and recognized such rights as "important rights in an era
where information on an individual is so readily available even
without consent." The Court emphasised meaningful
compensation, deterrence, and vindication as driving damages awards
in privacy-related cases, signalling the importance of protecting
these rights even where there is no proof of a direct loss or proof
of a particularly egregious breach.
The Court concluded Bell violated Chitraker's rights in a
"real sense." The Court also emphasized that the power
imbalance between Bell—a large company for whom a small
damage award would have little material impact—and
Chitraker—an individual user who spent a considerable period
dealing with the Bell bureaucracy—suggested the damages award
should not be token, or minimal.
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Peerenboom v Marvel Entertainment (2016 NY Slip Op 31957(U)) is drama-driven case in which the New York County Supreme Court afforded Toronto businessman Harold Peerenboom the right to obtain the private emails...
The Supreme Court of Canada released a landmark decision today giving important guidance on how Canada's federal privacy law, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, should be interpreted.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently approved a settlement agreement in the Lowanski v The Home Depot class action, a decision that highlights adequate protection and a sufficient response can significantly reduce the legal risks after a data breach.
The October 19, 2016 judgment of the European Court of Justice in the matter brought by Patrick Breyer against the Federal Republic of Germany (the "EU Decision") raises the issue of whether an IP address is personal information under the EU Directive 95/46/EC and provides an interesting comparison with the Canadian perspective.
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