Canada’s Privacy Community Releases Open Letter, Background Paper on Copyright and Technological Threats to Privacy

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Canada’s Privacy Community Releases Open Letter, Background Paper on Copyright and Technological Threats to Privacy

Privacy Commissioners of Canada, Ontario and British Columbia Release Own Letters of Concern

Ottawa, ON – May 17, 2006 – A group of public-interest oriented organizations and privacy and civil liberties experts have released an open letter to the Ministers of Canadian Heritage and Industry along with a Background Paper detailing their concerns over how proposed changes to Canadian copyright law implicate privacy, freedom of expression and civil liberties. The open letter focuses on dangers to privacy posed by the extension of legal protection to “digital rights management” (DRM) technology.

In separate letters of support, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, David Loukidelis, and Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, each wrote to Minister of Canadian Heritage Bev Oda and Industry Minister Maxime Bernier to express their concern with the privacy implications of DRM technology.

“The Canadian government has not publicly consulted on the privacy implications of possible copyright reforms,” notes CIPPIC staff counsel David Fewer. “The signatories to the open letter argue that the infamous Sony BMG ‘rootkit’ DRM demonstrates that their privacy concerns are well-founded, and that the time has come for the Canadian government to consider ‘copyright law reforms that would protect Canadians from the use of DRM’, and not ‘reforms that would provide protection for DRM.’”

Mr. Fewer adds that the Commissioners’ letters signal the seriousness with which they view the privacy issues associated with DRM. “The time to address these issues is now, before we see a copyright bill – not during review in Committee.”

The Privacy Community’s open letter seeks assurances from the government that:

  1. any proposed copyright reforms will prioritize privacy protection by including a full privacy consultation and a full privacy impact assessment with the introduction of any copyright reform bill;

  • any proposed anti-circumvention provisions will create no negative privacy impact; and
  • any proposed copyright reforms will include pro-active privacy protections that, for example, enshrine the rights of Canadians to access and enjoy copyright works anonymously and in private.
  • The open letter and Background Paper have been posted at the group’s website at

    About Canada’s Privacy Community: The signatories to the letter include some of Canada’s best known public-interest organizations and leading academic privacy experts. Signatories include:

    • Association for Media and Technology in Education in Canada
    • Atlantic Provinces Library Association
    • BC Civil Liberties Association
    • BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
    • BC Library Association
    • Colin Bennett, Professor of Political Science, University of Victoria
    • Canadian Association of University Teachers
    • Canadian Federation of Students
    • Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic
    • Canadian Library Association
    • CLUE : The Canadian Association for Open Source
    • Consumers Association of Canada
    • Electronic Frontier Canada
    • Electronic Frontier Foundation
    • Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa
    • Marsha Hanen, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, University of Victoria
    • Ian Kerr, Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law & Technology at the University of Ottawa
    • Library Association of Alberta
    • Online Rights Canada
    • Ontario Library Association
    • Bruce Phillips, Former Privacy Commissioner of Canada (1991-2000)
    • Privaterra
    • Pubic Interest Advocacy Centre
    • Teresa Scassa, Director of the Law and Technology Institute and Associate Professor at Dalhousie Law School
    • Val Steeves, Professor, Faculty of Criminology, University of Ottawa
    • Paul Van Oorschot, Canada Research Chair in Network and Software Security, at Carleton University

    About CIPPIC: CIPPIC is the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, Canada’s only technology law clinic. CIPPIC was established in 2003 at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section. CIPPIC’s mandate is to advocate for balance in policy and law-making on issues arising out of new technologies.

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    For Further information, see:

    Canada’s Privacy Community Open Letter:

  • Canada’s Privacy Community Background Paper:

  • Letter of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada:

  • (english)
  • (french)
  • Letter of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia:

  • Letter of Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner:

  • For further information, contact:

    David Fewer
    Staff Counsel
    CIPPIC, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic
    (613) 562-5800 ext. 2558
    dfewer -at- .

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    WOW!! That letter was really

    WOW!! That letter was really really well written.

    It's such a lucid categorization of the problem, and presents an undeniable path towards a solution. It may sound silly, but I felt so uplifted just reading it. One more nebulous problem just got pinned down.

    For those who haven't GO READ THAT LETTER!