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IP Address
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NOT SECURE
Your Internet provider can track your Internet activity.
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Privacy Laws in Canada

IVPN customers in Canada trust us every day with their increasing demand for privacy and security. Understand why privacy is such an important issue for customers in Canada.

Data Retention by ISPs

Canada does not yet require its ISPs to retain the online data and logging habits of their customers. To their credit, Canadian privacy activist groups and civil society have been very vigilant in monitoring impending legislation that may impact on the online privacy of Canadians. In doing so, Canadians have ensured that their online privacy and general privacy-related freedoms have been more protected than their larger neighbours to the south or most European countries for that matter – thus far. There are ongoing concerns that the Canadian government, as well as provincial governments, have been making every effort to enact legislation that would curb online privacy.

A good example of proposed legislation which was only killed due to huge public outcry was Bill C-30, the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act. This legislation aimed to provide Canadian authorities with wide-ranging powers to monitor and track the online activities of its citizens. ISPs would be forced to keep logs of all their customers, which would have to be immediately handed over to authorities on request[1]. Even more disturbing was the that the Act provided for mandatory ‘backdoor entrances’ which would allow authorities the ability to simply login and access any internet user’s personal details and online history with no judicial oversight or need for a warrant of any kind whatsoever[2]. It was then exposed that the government had wanted to use the Act to broaden the state’s powers even in cases unrelated to criminal activity. It was further divulged that the Act would be an absolute goldmine for hackers[3]. Perhaps most telling of all is that the words ‘children’ and ‘internet predators’ only appeared once in the entire Act!

Canada is not immune from government surveillance and potential breaches of online privacy, however. In August 2014 it was revealed that the federal government’s secretive electronic intelligence agency (Communications Security Establishment Canada) refused to openly declare how long it held onto the communications logs of Canadians. This immense secrecy by the Canadian secret service regarding surveillance of the online activities of the country’s citizens is extremely worrying to say the least[4].

Digital Copyright Laws

Canada has a long and evolving history of copyright law. Under the country’s much-amended Copyright Act of 1924, copyright only extends to the expression of these objects. Therefore, no one can claim copyright over an idea or some fact. They can, however, claim ownership over their particular expression of an idea or statement of fact[5]. New amendments to modernize the Copyright Act for the internet age were added in 2012, with a focus almost entirely on digital copyright issues[6]. Bill C-11was viewed as the biggest overhaul of Canadian copyright law in years and after repeated efforts today so since 2005[7]. The new legislation cleared up many issues that had been legally ambivalent and has been viewed as mostly positive with regard to digital copyright usage.

The issue of ‘fair dealing’ is a central issue in much of the 2012 legislation. The law now offers quite considerable flexibility for Canadians wishing to make greater use of works without having to request prior permission from rights holders or have fear of liability. Canadian copyright law now also includes a unique user generated content provision that establishes a legal ‘safe harbour’ for creators of non-commercial user generated content. Known as the ‘Youtube exception,’ this includes such online activities as remixed music, mashup videos or home movies with commercial music in the background. The provision is not only limited to videos.

Freedom of Speech and Censorship

Canadian courts have been vigorous in their defence of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Freedoms regarding the protection against unreasonable search and seizure and protecting citizens against unreasonable invasions of privacy have been upheld by courts time and again. The Supreme Court of Canada has also expressly recognized the essential role of privacy in a democratic state. However, these laudable constitutional efforts by Canadian courts to defend privacy have been contradicted by incursions into online privacy by the government and its agencies.

Future Trends

Canadian society and courts have been strident in protecting privacy for all citizens. However, there are worrying trends that indicate that Canadian governments and surveillance-focused agencies are intent on curtailing the online privacy of Canadians.

Our Take

Canada has one of the better online privacy legal regimes in the West, but Canadians will need to remain vigilant against government surveillance.

Interested in other countries? See our Comparison of Internet Privacy Laws page.

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