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Facebook issues statement against employers asking prospective or actual employees to reveal passwords

Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer, Erin Egan, issued a statement on March 23, 2012 setting out the company's opposition to employers asking prospective or actual employees to reveal their Facebook passwords.

The statement reads:

"In recent months, we've seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people's Facebook profiles or private information. This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user's friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.

The most alarming of these practices is the reported incidences of employers asking prospective or actual employees to reveal their passwords. If you are a Facebook user, you should never have to share your password, let anyone access your account, or do anything that might jeopardize the security of your account or violate the privacy of your friends. We have worked really hard at Facebook to give you the tools to control who sees your information.  read more »

Supreme Court of Canada to hear union's appeal of case concerning random alcohol testing in workplace

In a decision issued on March 20, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada announced that it would hear the appeal of a case involving an employer's right to conduct random alcohol testing in the workplace

Some key facts concerning the case:  read more »

Ontario Court of Appeal recognizes tort of invasion of personal privacy in case involving two BMO employees

Jurisdiction: - Ontario

In a decision issued on January 18, 2012 - Jones v. Tsige, 2012 ONCA 32 - the Ontario Court of Appeal recognized the tort of invasion of personal privacy in case involving two BMO employees.

The court then awarded $10,000 in damages to the employee whose privacy has been breached.

For more background on this case, see my May 9, 2011 post here: "Ontario Court of Appeal to consider tort of invasion of privacy in work context case".

Federal government re-introduces amendments to PIPEDA that address employee personal information

Topics: - PIPEDA - Privacy
Jurisdiction: - Canada/Federal

The federal government recently re-introduced legislation - Bill C-12, Safeguarding Canadians' Personal Information Act -  to amend the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act ("PIPEDA").

Once passed, the amendments will make the rules around employee personal information clearer for employers and, in some case, more employer friendly.

The same amendments were introduced in May 2010 but expired or died on the order paper when the federal election was called and Parliament was dissolved in March 2011. See my previous entry here: Federal government introduces long awaited amendments to PIPEDA.

The government's September 29, 2011 news release announcing the re-introduction of the amendments can be found here: Government of Canada Moves to Enhance Privacy of Individuals during Commercial Transactions.  read more »

BC Privacy Commissioner releases guidelines on social media background checks

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

The British Columbia Information and Privacy Commissioner recently released guidelines on social media background checks.

The October 12, 2011 news release from the Commissioner's office announcing the Guidelines for Social Media Background Checks (October 2011) states that:  read more »

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.

Ontario Court of Appeal to consider tort of invasion of privacy in work context case

Jurisdiction: - Ontario

The Law Times ran a story ("Appeal court to consider privacy tort") today on the decision in Jones v. Tsige, 2011 ONSC 1475.

It is a case concerning two employees of the Bank of Montreal who worked at different branches. Over the course of four years, one employee (the "Defendant") accessed the personal banking information of the other employee, who was also a customer of the bank (the "Plaintiff"), on 176 occasions. 

Rather than filing a complaint with the federal privacy commissioner under PIPEDA, and ultimately going to the federal court for recourse, the Plaintiff sued the Defendant for the common law tort of invasion of privacy.

In its decision issued on March 23, 2011, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, citing precedent, ruled that there is no tort of invasion of privacy in Ontario.

The Ontario Court of Appeal will now have an opportunity to weigh in on this issue.  read more »

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 »

BC Privacy Commissioner to consider use of PRIME police database for employment-related criminal record checks

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

BC's Information and Privacy Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, issued a news release yesterday in which she confirmed that her office:

  • has been examining the issue of employment-related criminal records checks for several months; and 
  • will take the recent concerns voiced by the BC Civil Liberties Association ("BCCLA") about the PRIME police database into consideration.

PRIME stands for "Police Records Information Management Environment".

The Commissioner's release goes on to state:  read more »

Upcoming conferences on labour, employment, human rights, privacy, immigration, pensions & benefits law

The table below contains a comprehensive list of the upcoming workplace law (employment, labour, human rights, pensions, privacy and immigration) conferences in Canada in 2011. The full names of the service providers, and links to their sites, are at the bottom of the page.

 read more »