#CyberFLASH: Google, B.C. firm duel over free speech, copyright in Supreme Court battle

google-logo-jpg-size-custom-crop-1086x714OTTAWA—A legal fight between Internet giant Google and a British Columbia technology company unfolds today in the Supreme Court of Canada, where they will duel over competing free speech and copyright infringement issues.

At issue is whether Canadian courts have the jurisdiction to make sweeping orders to block access to content on the Internet beyond Canada’s borders.

Google is challenging a 2015 ruling by the British Columbia Court of Appeal that ordered it to stop indexing or referencing websites linked to a company called Datalink Technologies Gateways.

The B.C. appeal court granted that injunction at the request of Equustek Solutions Inc., which won a judgment against Datalink for essentially stealing, copying and reselling industrial network interface hardware that it created.

Equustek wanted to stop Datalink from selling the hardware through various websites and turned to Google to shut down references to them.

Initially, Google removed more than 300 URLs from search results on Google.ca, but more kept popping up, so Equustek sought — and won — the broader injunction that ordered Google to impose a worldwide ban.

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#CyberFLASH: Google and Facebook cases dominate Supreme Court fall session

supreme-courtjpg.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxOTTAWA—Can a Canadian court curb Google search results worldwide if they advertise a Canadian company’s counterfeiting competitor? Does Facebook violate your privacy rights when it uses your name and photo in ads to endorse products after you “liked” a website? What’s the proper test to release a convicted murderer on bail while he appeals a conviction?

They’re just some of the big questions among 29 appeals facing a short-handed Supreme Court of Canada as it starts a busy fall session next month.

Six months after Thomas Cromwell announced his Aug. 31 retirement, no replacement has been chosen. The deadline for a shortlist of interested candidates to be submitted to the prime minister is the end of this week.

But the high court’s work cannot be put on hold. So, seven or eight judges will sit on panels through October and likely into November while the time-consuming vetting and consultation process for a new judge is completed.

At the heart of the Google case is how far Canadian courts can go to uphold the public interest — in this case the intellectual property rights of an industrial design company — as defined and protected by Canadian statutes. The small Burnaby technology business sued a company called Datalink for stealing their company secrets and manufacturing a competing product. It also got an injunction against Google from displaying search results related to the company, which operates from an undisclosed location.

Google said it has nothing to do with the lawsuit but was dragged into it, even though the offending website is still operating and available “using readily available information location tools, such as other search engines and social networking sites.”

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#CyberFLASH: Google eyes expanded smartphone advertising in 2015

9631175Internet giant Google aims to better use smartphone data to enable advertisers to reach out to mobile users. Google Canada’s Sam Sebastian says the challenge is finding a balance between information collection and user privacy.

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#CyberFLASH: CRTC should let consumers decide future of TV, Google’s Schmidt says


Eric Schmidt has a message for Canada’s government: Back off and let consumers decide how they want to watch television.

On his first visit to Canada, one of Google’s most powerful executives waded into the contentious debate over regulation of Internet services as CRTC hearings wrap up in Ottawa that could lead to new broadcasting rules. He told The Globe and Mail in an interview that governments should stop trying to protect existing industries from innovative new startups.

“I think the evidence is that governments around the world are heavily influenced by both political matters, but also incumbency in one form or another,” said Mr. Schmidt, the company’s executive chairman. “We’re taking the position that governments need to ultimately serve their citizens by giving the citizens choices, and the market will sort it out.”

It is, in many ways, the defining opinion not just of Mr. Schmidt, but of Silicon Valley, whose myriad startups are challenging traditional business models in a variety of industries – from taxis to television. Google is perhaps the most influential among several tech industry companies – including Netflix and transportation startup Uber – that vocally oppose what they say are government efforts to protect out-of-touch incumbents.

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#CyberFLASH: Apple and Google slammed for encrypting data on new phones


Law enforcement agencies in Canada and the U.S. say the introduction of better encryption on new Apple and Android cellphones could put lives at risk, but cryptology experts say they’re exaggerating the threat.

Both Apple and Google announced last week that their new operating systems will be encrypted by default, which will prevent anyone — including police — from accessing data stored on the phones.

On Thursday, Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey accused the companies of marketing products that would let people put themselves beyond the law’s reach.

Comey cited child kidnapping and terrorism cases as situations in which quick access by authorities to information on cellphones could save lives.

Comey did not discuss specific cases that would have been more difficult for the FBI to investigate under the new policies, which involve only physical access to a suspect’s or victim’s phone when the owner is unable or unwilling to unlock it for authorities.

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#CyberFLASH: Privacy Commissioner questions how Apple and Google respect Canadians


The office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) released its 2013 report examining how more than 2,000 websites and mobile apps release information regarding their privacy practices. The study was conducted with the participation of 19 different privacy enforcement authorities.

Mixed results seem to be the big take away from the Privacy Commissioner’s research. According to the report, some large websites have no privacy policies in place at all, while others keep privacy policies hidden, making it very difficult for the average user to find them.

“In today’s digital marketplace, websites and apps regularly collect a wide range of personal information — everything from a person’s location and online activities to their personal preferences and credit card information,” said Canadian Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien in a release.

When an issue was identified, the OPC notified the organization of their concerns. Forty websites and apps have already agreed to comply with the OPC’s suggested changes to their privacy practices, which means the Privacy Commission won’t need to move forward with a formal investigation focused on those organizations.

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#CyberFLASH: Advertisers scramble to reassure public after Google privacy flap


Advertising groups are taking steps to address concerns raised by Canada’s privacy watchdog, fearing a backlash that could have a negative impact on the lucrative world of targeted online advertising.

The Association of Canadian Advertisers and the Canadian Marketing Association have been working to align themselves with privacy advocates, in order to demonstrate that they are not playing fast and loose with consumers’ personal information. The use of that information has become crucial to the way that ads are bought and sold.

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#CyberFLASH: Google runs afoul of Canadian privacy law


TORONTO — Google has been caught afoul of the law by displaying web ads linked to a person’s health history, according to Canada’s interim privacy commissioner Chantal Bernier.

An investigation by her office backed up a man’s complaints that he was seeing so-called behavioural advertisements based on his web browsing history. After searching for information about devices to treat sleep apnea, he began to see ads for those devices as he browsed the web.

While behavioural advertising is not illegal, Canada’s privacy law does not allow consumers to be targeted based on “sensitive personal information,” including their health.

Google’s privacy policy outlaws displaying advertisements based on race, religion, sexual orientation or health. But the Mountain View, Calif.-based company acknowledged that some advertisers using its ad-serving platform were not following the policy.

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