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Lawrence David-Bisse

Is CSIS Running Afoul of Canadian Privacy Laws?

Privacy rights are of utmost importance in a complex interdependent society. Having reached an apex of unprecedented iteration, human activity requires the protection of one’s identity and personal information. Private communications are increasingly being compromised while at the same time identity theft multiplies. Canadians are thus advised to remain vigilant, and to be cautious in the dissemination of sensitive material.Technological man is particularly vulnerable to encroachments on privacy. The digital age has transformed the very notion, and its erosion is directly linked to the rise of information technology. Internet is the obvious culprit; a double-edged sword, if you will. Certainly, its invention has revolutionized the way humans communicate. The obstacles of time and space have been eviscerated, leading to greater fluidity. By contrast, the Internet has empowered digital malefactors. Piracy, hacking, fraud, and surveillance have risen exponentially. A recent example is that of Sony, whose servers were infiltrated by sophisticated hackers. The result was a massive privacy breach. Subscribers were not amused.A more traditional, yet equally prevalent, actor in the realm of privacy rights is the federal government. Its branches and institutions have access to considerable information for a variety of purposes. For one, the state relies on private information in the design of policy. An obvious example is the Census, compiled every five years. Privacy is also involved in the control of criminal conduct. Law enforcement authorities are endowed with considerable powers, but warrants must be obtained to enter a domicile, or to conduct a search. Barring the rare exception, the Courts are stellar in defending this fundamental right. There are few cases where an offender will be convicted on the basis of evidence illicitly obtained.Notwithstanding its rigorous protections, privacy remains vulnerable to improper state action. Public safety and national security are often cited as justifications for increased investigative… Read More

Celebrity and the Law: The Rick Ross Case Study

Common Law confers particular protection to celebrities. Such protections are premised on the uniqueness of celebrity life, which entails rights and perils others are not privy to enjoy.The bolstering of protection arises from two principal facts. First, celebrities are particularly prone to encroachments on privacy. Most humans go about their life anonymously, bereft of external curiosity. By contrast, the enjoyment of privacy is directly proportionate to one’s level of celebrity. In other words, the more famous a person is the less privacy he will be seen to enjoy.The second aspect of celebrity status relates to marketability. Celebrities often use their image or likeness for capital gain. Products bearing celebrities’ names and faces can be found in any North American supermarket. Others appear in commercials, pitching everything from jewellery to barbecue grills. The value of celebrity status takes on a life of its own. The power of mass influence will often confer legitimacy to products they endorse. American rap artist Jay-Z once captured this reality, stating, “I’m not a businessman; I’m abusiness, man!”One of the prime instruments at celebrities’ disposal is trade marking. Much like the trade marking of a brand name and logo, celebrities may trademark their name, image, and likeness. The impetus again arises from their relations with the outside world. Without trademarks, celebrities could see their image used for commercial gain without compensation. Products could be advertised with endorsements from celebrities who never consented to the use of their image. This does not comport with the postulates of our socioeconomic order.The protection of celebrities’ corporate personality is thus construed as a property right. Separate from the individual’s legal personality, this property right can be owned, sold, jointly held or licensed to external actors. Infringement can be sued in civil court, and will often result in windfall damages. This was precisely… Read More

Quebec Drops Charges Against 31 Accused Drug Traffickers

The right to be tried without unreasonable delay is a pillar of the Common Law system of criminal justice. Developed under the reign of King Henry II, the protection sought to prevent the arbitrary confinement of individuals for unspecified periods of time. The imprisonment of political dissidents had become fashionable across the kingdom, and multiplied in the centralized autocratic polities of Central Europe. But, of course, a constitutional polity could not tolerate such a practice. Its iteration was abhorrent and clearly contrary to the principles of fundamental justice.Fortunately for Englishmen – and later, for Britain’s Commonwealth progeny – the right was enshrined as part of the Magna Carta (1215). An accused offender would thence be brought to trial within a reasonable amount of time, lest a proceeding conforming to the rule of law justified a prolonged detention. The writ of habeas corpus was particularly useful. Not only did it mandate that trials be held within a reasonable time, but also that offenders could challenge the legality of their detention before an impartial court of law. Gone were the days where dissidents were jailed at the monarch’s request, and the protection is respected to this very day. For, as the saying goes, “justice delayed is justice denied.”As a descendant of the Magna Carta and the English Declaration of Rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has maintained this immemorial right. To be sure, under the heading of “legal rights,” section 11(d) of the Charter proclaims that: “Any person charged with an offence has the right to be tried within a reasonable time.” Put into practice, the section has, at times, led to the staying of proceedings by reason of unreasonable delay. Charges are dropped and the accused emerge unscathed. The reasoning might seem illogical, but is grounded in a fundamental necessity. For while the right to be tried without unreasonable delay is… Read More

Quebec Drops Charges Against 31 Accused Drug Traffickers

The right to be tried without unreasonable delay is a pillar of the Common Law system of criminal justice. Developed under the reign of King Henry II, the protection sought to prevent the arbitrary confinement of individuals for unspecified periods of time. The imprisonment of political dissidents had become fashionable across the kingdom, and multiplied in the centralized autocratic polities of Central Europe. But, of course, a constitutional polity could not tolerate such a practice. Its iteration was abhorrent and clearly contrary to the principles of fundamental justice.Fortunately for Englishmen – and later, for Britain’s Commonwealth progeny – the right was enshrined as part of the Magna Carta (1215). An accused offender would thence be brought to trial within a reasonable amount of time, lest a proceeding conforming to the rule of law justified a prolonged detention. The writ of habeas corpus was particularly useful. Not only did it mandate that trials be held within a reasonable time, but also that offenders could challenge the legality of their detention before an impartial court of law. Gone were the days where dissidents were jailed at the monarch’s request, and the protection is respected to this very day. For, as the saying goes, “justice delayed is justice denied.”As a descendant of the Magna Carta and the English Declaration of Rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has maintained this immemorial right. To be sure, under the heading of “legal rights,” section 11(d) of the Charter proclaims that: “Any person charged with an offence has the right to be tried within a reasonable time.” Put into practice, the section has, at times, led to the staying of proceedings by reason of unreasonable delay. Charges are dropped and the accused emerge unscathed. The reasoning might seem illogical, but is grounded in a fundamental necessity. For while the right to be tried without unreasonable delay is… Read More

Online Poker Sites are not Exempt From Criminal Sanction

The American online gambling industry is a vastly popular spectrum of interactive gamesmanship. Eschewing the frenzied atmosphere of physical casinos, gambling sites offer similar thrills from the comfort of one’s own home, with the added bonus of minimal supervision. The vitality of this industry is glaringly evidenced by its annual intake. Government statistics estimate revenues of 1.4 billion dollars for the year 2010 alone.In spite of its widespread popularity however, the online poker industry is subject to rigorous scrutiny. As for-profit gambling is generally outlawed in the United States, policymakers are increasingly alive to the safe havens provided by online gambling websites. Critics contend that the latter facilitate the circumvention of applicable laws, leading to widespread money laundering. It is thus not surprising that the industry is increasingly constrained in its operation.In April 2011, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York filed an indictment against the three largest online poker companies and their payment processors. Charged under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, American Poker Stars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker face charges of money laundering, bank fraud, and illegal gambling. The involved parties’ successful convictions will have tremendous consequences for the American poker industry. In fact, many assert that such an outcome will curtail its operation in the United States.Concerned parties are unsurprisingly adamant in defending their respective positions. Proponents of online poker allege that existing laws do not prohibit such websites, as the laws only apply to “games of chance.” Thus, as poker is purportedly a “game of skill,” the accused site owners cannot be convicted under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.The distinction is in fact nothing more than a red herring, and only obscures the central issue at hand. Whether poker is a game of skill, or one of chance, is of secondary importance in… Read More
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