Canada: - March 2005

Last Updated: June 7 2005


  • Canadian Secure Electronic Signature Regulations in Force
  • House Committee Approves Revised Spyware Bill
  • Senators Introduce Anti-Spyware Legislation
  • FEC to Exempt Bloggers from Election Law
  • Senator Introduces Phishing bill
  • French Court Rules Downloading Legal
  • Student Convicted of Illegally Downloading Music
  • Phone Company Pays Fine for Blocking VOIP Calls
  • Google Being Sued Over News Site

Canadian Secure Electronic Signature Regulations In Force

The Canadian government has brought into force a series of secure electronic signature regulations (the "Regulations"). The Regulations define "secure electronic signature" for the purposes of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Canada Evidence Act. An essential element of the process of creating a secure electronic signature involves the use of a "digital signature certificate" issued by a certification authority. The Regulations provide that only those digital signature certificates are deemed to be sufficiently trustworthy that are issued by certification authorities which have been approved by Treasury Board.

When an electronic document is signed using a digital signature, where the digital signature certificate has been issued by a certification authority listed on the Treasury Board Web site, then the Regulations establish a rebuttable presumption that the electronic document is attributable to the person who is identified in, or can be identified through, the digital signature certificate.

Regulations are available at:

House Committee Approves Revised Spyware Bill

A committee of the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved a revised version of anti-spyware legislation designed to make the bill more acceptable to business interests. The Spy Act, as it is called, aims to prevent spyware transmitters from hijacking a homepage or tracking a user's keystrokes. The act would require spyware programs to be easily identifiable and removable, would prohibit the collection of personal information unless express consent is given by users. However, the amended bill would exempt software cookies, including third-party cookies, from the Spyware definitions. The revised language also affirms that companies can monitor activity on their own Web sites, and direct advertising of their own products without being subject to the bill's notice-and-consent provision.

More information available at:,1283,66848,00.html

Senators Introduce Anti-Spyware Legislation

U.S. Senators Conrad Burns and Ron Wyden, authors of the 2003 CAN SPAM Act, have recently introduced anti-spyware legislation, calling for prohibitions and penalties on a variety of practices that result in unwanted software being placed on computers. The bill, called the Spy Block Act, starts with the premise that computer owners should have full knowledge and control over the software installed on their machines. This law would ban the surreptitious installation of software unknown to the user, prohibit misleading inducements to install software and forbid the collection and transmission of information about the user of a computer without the user's consent.

More information available at:

FEC To Exempt Bloggers From Election Law

The Federal Election Commission ("FEC") recently released anticipated rules which confirm that political bloggers would continue to be exempt from most campaign finance laws. Furthermore, the FEC also proposes that news outlets that are online-only and individual bloggers be treated as legitimate journalists and therefore remain unaffected by laws that could count their political endorsements as campaign contributions. The FEC maintains that these proposed rules are intended to ensure that political committees properly finance and disclose their Internet communications, without preventing individuals from using the Internet to speak freely about candidates and elections.

However, these proposed rules are only tentative and the FEC is inviting the public to comment on them.

More information available at:
Proposed rules available at:

Senator Introduces Phishing Bill

A senior Senator recently introduced legislation to impose tough penalties against persons convicted of launching "phishing" scams, a form of online fraud in which criminals use deception to trick computer users into giving up their personal and financial information. The bill would allow fines of up to $250,000 US and jail terms of up to five years against anyone convicted of creating fake corporate Web sites and fraudulent e-mail messages designed to deceive consumers. The law would also apply to a form of phishing sometimes called "pharming," which involves using programming tricks to redirect Internet users from a legitimate site to a counterfeit version.

Some have voiced their concern that the bill may in fact do very little to prevent phishing attacks, since most originate outside of the country. It is estimated that roughly 68 per cent of all phishing sites are hosted on computers located in other countries and thus outside the reach of U.S. law.

More information available at:

French Court Rules Downloading Legal

The French Court of Appeal of Montpellier has recently released a 22-year-old Internet user free of charges after he was accused of copying nearly 500 movies on the Internet, burning them on disks and sharing them with friends. The decision was based on the French Intellectual Property Code which states that "authors can't forbid copies or reproductions that are only intended for the private use of the copyist." The court held that although the accused had shared his disks with friends, it could not be inferred from that fact alone that the copies were not intended for "private use" only.

More information available at:
French decision available at:

Student Convicted Of Illegally Downloading Music

An Arizona university student was recently convicted of a crime under state laws for illegally downloading music and movies from the Internet. The teen pleaded guilty to possession of counterfeit marks, or unauthorized copies of intellectual property and, under an agreement with prosecutors, was sentenced to a three-month deferred jail sentence, three years of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $5,400 US fine. The student is believed to be the first person in the U.S. to be convicted of such a crime under state laws, since copyright is generally a federal matter.

More information available at:

Phone Company Pays Fine For Blocking VoIP Calls

A North Carolina-based telephone company has agreed to pay a $15,000 US fine and to stop blocking the ability of consumers to use Voice-over-IP (VoIP) calling services instead of regular phone lines. In the first action of its kind, the Federal Communications Commission settled with the telephone company which operates several rural phone companies throughout the Southeast and Midwest. Vonage Holdings Corp., a leading Internet phone company, had complained that as many as 200 of its customers had their service blocked by a subsidiary that provided its phone customers with Internet access. For those who had disconnected their traditional phone lines and were relying solely on Vonage's VoIP service, the blocking meant they had no ability to make calls, even to emergency 911 services.

More information available at:

Google Being Sued Over News Site

Agence France Presse (AFP), a French news service, is suing Google, alleging that it includes AFP's photos, news headlines and stories on its news site without permission. Customers must pay to use AFP's services whereas Google News gathers photos and news stories from around the Web and posts them on its news site, which is free to users. AFP is seeking damages of at least $17.5 million US and an order barring Google News from displaying AFP photographs, news headlines or story leads.

More information available at:
AFP's compliant is available at:

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