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Computer Use & Social Media

Federal Privacy Commissioner launches handbook to help lawyers apply PIPEDA to their practices

Jurisdiction: - Canada/Federal

The Federal Privacy Commissioner has launched on online handbook - PIPEDA and Your Practice - A Privacy Handbook for Lawyers - to help lawyers apply the federal private sector privacy legislation to their practices.

"Written by lawyers for lawyers, PIPEDA and Your Practice - A Privacy Handbook for Lawyers describes best practices in managing the collection, use and disclosure of personal information, responding to requests for access to personal information, and the potential application of PIPEDA. The Handbook covers practical privacy issues that arise in the course of managing a law firm and conducting litigation," stated the Commissioner's office in its August 16, 2011 news release announcing the handbook.

Litigators will likely find the "Privacy Issues in Civil Litigation" section to be of significant value.

ONCA: teacher had reasonable expectation of privacy on work computer in face of no clear policy

Jurisdiction: - Ontario
Sector: - Education

In R. v Cole, 2011 ONCA 218, a criminal law case, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that a high school teacher had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of a work laptop computer on which he was entitled to store personal information.

In making this finding, the court pointed in part to the fact that the employer had no clear privacy policy relating to teachers' work laptops, and no policy statement  reserving the right to monitor or search the teachers' laptops.

However, the appeal court further ruled in its March 22, 2011 decision that:  read more »

"Employee's E-mail to Attorney Not Privileged Where Sent by Employer's Computer, California Court Rules"

Jurisdiction: - United States

Jackson Lewis, a labour and employment firm with offices in almost every US state, has published a case summary entitled, "Employee's E-mail to Attorney Not Privileged Where Sent by Employer's Computer, California Court Rules"

Ths summary covers the California Court of Appeal's decision in Holmes v. Petrovich Development Co., LLC, No. C059133 (Cal. Ct. App. Jan. 13, 2011).

"Social Media: Opportunities and Limitations in the Workplace"

"Social Media: Opportunities and Limitations in the Workplace" (December 19, 2010) is the title of a recent paper by Carman J. Overholt, Q.C. and Emily Pitcher. Mr Overholt is a lawyer at Fraser Milner Casgrain in Vancouver and Ms. Pitcher is a student at law. 

Top Issues Facing BC Employers

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

Vancouver based law firm Bull Housser Tupper has published its "Annual List of Top Issues Facing BC Employers" (December 30, 2010). In order, the five issues are:  read more »

Facebook postings about employer that were offensive, insulting, disrespectful provided cause for termination

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

In a decision issued on October 25, 2010, the BC Labour Relations Board ruled that the employer had just cause to terminate the employment of two employees because of their offensive, insulting, disrespectful and damaging Facebook postings about the employer.

The decision is Lougheed Imports Ltd. operating West Coast Mazda doing business as West Coast Detail & Accessory Centre -and- United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Local 1518, BCLRB No. B190/2010.

As the Board stated in the decision:  read more »

"On-line Social Networking Forums: (Un)Welcome to the Workplace"

"On-line Social Networking Forums: (Un)Welcome to the Workplace" (2010) is the title of a paper written by three lawyers at Gowlings - Melanie Polowin, Bettina Burgess, and Laurence Bourgeois-Hatto.

The paper reviews, "the legal and practical issues and provides recommendations for the three main areas where on-line social networking forums impact the modern workplace:

  1. when used as a tool for recruitment;
  2. when used as a tool for marketing/selling; and
  3. when social networking becomes social notworking, or is otherwise harmful to the employer."

"Individual's 'Private' Social Networking Sites Are Not Exactly Private, New York Court Rules"

Jurisdiction: - United States

An "Individual's 'Private' Social Networking Sites Are Not Exactly Private, New York Court Rules". That is the title of a case summary published by Jackson Lewis, a US labour and employment law firm.

The case is Romano v. Steelcase, Inc., __ Misc. 2d. __, 2010 NY Slip Op. 20388 (Sup. Ct., Suffolk County 2010). According to the summary, in a lawsuit for personal injuries, a New York court determined that information designated as “private” on a plaintiff’s Facebook and MySpace pages could be accessed by the defendants in pre-trial discovery.