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The Privacy Commissioner of Canada issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in R. v. Spencer

OTTAWA, June 13, 2014 – Statement from Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien:

“Our Office welcomes this seminal decision for privacy protection in Canada.  In its decision today, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that anonymity on the internet is a critical component of informational privacy.

The Court ruled that there is indeed a reasonable expectation of privacy in subscriber information.  The Court agreed that this information could, in many cases, be the key to unlocking sensitive details about a user’s online activities and is therefore worthy of constitutional protection.

The decision has important implications for Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.

In particular, it confirms that an immunity clause that protects a person who voluntarily discloses personal information to police does not in itself constitute any ‘lawful authority’ for the state to obtain that information under Canada’s federal private sector privacy legislation, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

We would encourage Parliamentarians to carefully consider the implications of this ruling as they deliberate on Bill C-13 as well as Bill S-4, the Digital Privacy Act.”

For further information:

Factum of the Intervener, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada: In the matter of Matthew David Spencer and her Majesty the Queen