Canadian Supreme Court rules employees have right to privacy on work computers

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Canadian Supreme Court rules employees have right to privacy on work computers

Workplace computers contain so much personal information nowadays that employees have a legitimate expectation of privacy in using them, the Supreme Court of Canada said in a major ruling Friday.

The court said an individual’s Internet browsing history alone is capable of exposing his or her most intimate likes, dislikes, activities and thoughts.
“Canadians may therefore reasonably expect privacy in the information contained on these computers, at least where personal use is permitted or reasonably expected,” Mr. Justice Morris Fish said, writing for the majority.

Notwithstanding that privacy interest, the court ruled that nude photos of an underaged students can be used to prosecute an Ontario high-school teacher who had them on his laptop.

It said that in some cases, the seriousness of an offence and workplace computer policies are sufficient to override the right to privacy.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/supreme-court-rules-employees-have-right-to-privacy-on-work-computers/article4625660

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 I can see some expectation

 I can see some expectation of privacy if it is a laptop or tablet that the person is bringing home or say a company phone. If it is a desktop that is staying in the office I don't think there should be any.

But really, if you are too stupid to learn how to clear your internet browsing history after checking out porn sites at work you don't really deserve to be employed. Clicking on the history tab is hardly invasive whereas I would argue that some kind of monitoring program would be and entering someones password protected e-mail certainly would be. (although for certain jobs I could see that e-mail would need to be monitored, employees should be informed of and agree to whatever screening process is in place).

In the US we haven't had the supreme court make any decisions on this issue yet but there have been several cases working their way through to lower courts, I am sure it is just a matter of time. It should be interesting because our right to privacy is not very explicit.   

I just usually go with my own taste. If I like something, and it happens to be against the law, well, then I might have a problem.- Hunter S. Thompson


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Vastet wrote:Workplace

Vastet wrote:
Workplace computers contain so much personal information nowadays that employees have a legitimate expectation of privacy in using them, the Supreme Court of Canada said in a major ruling Friday. The court said an individual’s Internet browsing history alone is capable of exposing his or her most intimate likes, dislikes, activities and thoughts. “Canadians may therefore reasonably expect privacy in the information contained on these computers, at least where personal use is permitted or reasonably expected,” Mr. Justice Morris Fish said, writing for the majority. Notwithstanding that privacy interest, the court ruled that nude photos of an under-aged students can be used to prosecute an Ontario high-school teacher who had them on his laptop. It said that in some cases, the seriousness of an offense and workplace computer policies are sufficient to override the right to privacy. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/supreme-court-rules-employees-have-right-to-privacy-on-work-computers/article4625660

In all the companies I've ever worked at there was always a signed agreement before taking possession of a computer. The agreement said that the computer was property of the company and that all data held on the computer was company property. It also stated that the company could use all that data in any way it desired and that any employee who had nude photos of any kind would be dismissed no matter what the reason was, including art.

 

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Such an agreement will no

Such an agreement will no longer hold water in Canada.

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Vastet wrote:Such an

Vastet wrote:
Such an agreement will no longer hold water in Canada.

Sure it will.

Tell your employees that they are not allowed to use their computers for personal use. Tell them they are not allowed to visit sites which are not on the required list of sites related to their job.

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As the judgement points out,

As the judgement points out, a great many jobs using computers require a certain amount of personal use. That's not always an option.

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Vastet wrote:As the

Vastet wrote:
As the judgement points out, a great many jobs using computers require a certain amount of personal use. That's not always an option.

A contract is a contract is a contract. I wouldn't believe that any court, even in Canada would say that the contract is invalid. If you tell people, "Look we are going to give you a computer, use it for work only, don't ever use it for personal use" then so be it. That isn't too difficult to understand.

In this day and age go get a fucking smart phone if you need to look at porn. Stop wasting the company bandwidth doing personal shit.

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digitalbeachbum wrote:Vastet

digitalbeachbum wrote:

Vastet wrote:
As the judgement points out, a great many jobs using computers require a certain amount of personal use. That's not always an option.

A contract is a contract is a contract. I wouldn't believe that any court, even in Canada would say that the contract is invalid. If you tell people, "Look we are going to give you a computer, use it for work only, don't ever use it for personal use" then so be it. That isn't too difficult to understand.

In this day and age go get a fucking smart phone if you need to look at porn. Stop wasting the company bandwidth doing personal shit.

A contract that is illegal is not recognized as a contract. The most obvious example I can think of off the top of my head is the minimum wage. No matter how much we both want it, I cannot make a contract with you agreeing to pay you $5 an hour. Simply having a notarized legal document is not enough to ignore the law.

The key legal language will be "where personal use is permitted or reasonably expected" which it might be possible that a company can argue in some situations personal use is not permitted or reasonably expected- which a contract explicitly stating so would certainly help their case. However, if the Canadian Supreme Court is anything like the US court I would not be surprised if they require a company to have a very good reason for banning all personal use of a computer before honoring such a contract and the burden of proof will likely be shifted to the employer. 

I just usually go with my own taste. If I like something, and it happens to be against the law, well, then I might have a problem.- Hunter S. Thompson


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And the second they require

The second they require you to send or receive emails or use the net at all you are protected by Canadian privacy law.

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Beyond Saving

Beyond Saving wrote:

digitalbeachbum wrote:

Vastet wrote:
As the judgement points out, a great many jobs using computers require a certain amount of personal use. That's not always an option.

A contract is a contract is a contract. I wouldn't believe that any court, even in Canada would say that the contract is invalid. If you tell people, "Look we are going to give you a computer, use it for work only, don't ever use it for personal use" then so be it. That isn't too difficult to understand.

In this day and age go get a fucking smart phone if you need to look at porn. Stop wasting the company bandwidth doing personal shit.

A contract that is illegal is not recognized as a contract. The most obvious example I can think of off the top of my head is the minimum wage. No matter how much we both want it, I cannot make a contract with you agreeing to pay you $5 an hour. Simply having a notarized legal document is not enough to ignore the law.

The key legal language will be "where personal use is permitted or reasonably expected" which it might be possible that a company can argue in some situations personal use is not permitted or reasonably expected- which a contract explicitly stating so would certainly help their case. However, if the Canadian Supreme Court is anything like the US court I would not be surprised if they require a company to have a very good reason for banning all personal use of a computer before honoring such a contract and the burden of proof will likely be shifted to the employer. 

Sorry, but that is nuts. No. It's fucking stupid.

 

 

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digitalbeachbum wrote:Beyond

digitalbeachbum wrote:

Beyond Saving wrote:

digitalbeachbum wrote:

Vastet wrote:
As the judgement points out, a great many jobs using computers require a certain amount of personal use. That's not always an option.

A contract is a contract is a contract. I wouldn't believe that any court, even in Canada would say that the contract is invalid. If you tell people, "Look we are going to give you a computer, use it for work only, don't ever use it for personal use" then so be it. That isn't too difficult to understand.

In this day and age go get a fucking smart phone if you need to look at porn. Stop wasting the company bandwidth doing personal shit.

A contract that is illegal is not recognized as a contract. The most obvious example I can think of off the top of my head is the minimum wage. No matter how much we both want it, I cannot make a contract with you agreeing to pay you $5 an hour. Simply having a notarized legal document is not enough to ignore the law.

The key legal language will be "where personal use is permitted or reasonably expected" which it might be possible that a company can argue in some situations personal use is not permitted or reasonably expected- which a contract explicitly stating so would certainly help their case. However, if the Canadian Supreme Court is anything like the US court I would not be surprised if they require a company to have a very good reason for banning all personal use of a computer before honoring such a contract and the burden of proof will likely be shifted to the employer. 

Sorry, but that is nuts. No. It's fucking stupid.

I agree, there are a lot of laws that are fucking stupid... most laws are fucking stupid. 

I just usually go with my own taste. If I like something, and it happens to be against the law, well, then I might have a problem.- Hunter S. Thompson


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This is not one of them.

This is not one of them. There is effectively no difference between an email and a phone call, yet your phone privacy is protected and cannot be legally recorded unless you have been informed first. And even then it is inadmissable without a warrant.
This is bringing the internet into the 20th century, never minding the 21st.

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Vastet wrote:This is not one

Vastet wrote:
This is not one of them. There is effectively no difference between an email and a phone call, yet your phone privacy is protected and cannot be legally recorded unless you have been informed first. And even then it is inadmissable without a warrant. This is bringing the internet into the 20th century, never minding the 21st.

 

1 - My wife works for a company which allows no visitors, family or friends, unless it is an emergency. Emergencies are allocated to life and death situations. One exception is that you can visit the front desk if you need to pick up an item. No cell usage and no internet usage unless it is related to your job. Better not get caught doing personal shit because they will fire your ass (and they have) the same day they catch you doing it. No excuses.

2 - Try applying this type of law to government agencies which are related to national security, such as the FBI, CIA, NSA, SS or military.

3 - Who is talking about recording phone calls? I'm talking about companies which require you not use company equipment or time to make personal phone calls or emails.

4 - Glad I don't live in Canada. I would never open a business there if employees were allowed to abuse my resources.

5 - My previous company blocked all email and website not related to work. Unless you were a computer genius you couldn't use our laptops to do anything but what we allowed you to use it for; plus we had black out periods for email and internet usage. Every one had to plan their days accordingly. Oh, and fuck using the cell phone on company time to make personal calls. All cell phone calls were jammed unless you were standing in an area which allowed calls. Namely outside our building.

We had some assholes find "work arounds" and when they got caught they were fired on the spot. I loved catching people who modified their laptops to be used for personal shit.

 

 

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1: Nothing there would

1: Nothing there would violate the judgement of the court. The company doesn't monitor online activities, it forbids them outright.

2: The judgement specifically pointed out there are exceptions to the judgement. These would qualify under many circumstances.
Then again, I'm exceptionally certain a trained spy would have no trouble getting around monitoring anyway.

3: I'm simply demonstrating there's no difference between phone calls and emails.

4/5: Its been awhile, but I've seen studies that show limiting personal communication is detrimental to a company, so in fact you'd be better off running a company here than the US.

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Vastet wrote:1: Nothing

Vastet wrote:
1: Nothing there would violate the judgement of the court. The company doesn't monitor online activities, it forbids them outright. 2: The judgement specifically pointed out there are exceptions to the judgement. These would qualify under many circumstances. Then again, I'm exceptionally certain a trained spy would have no trouble getting around monitoring anyway. 3: I'm simply demonstrating there's no difference between phone calls and emails. 4/5: Its been awhile, but I've seen studies that show limiting personal communication is detrimental to a company, so in fact you'd be better off running a company here than the US.

1 - if you are speaking of my wife's company, yeah the monitor everything

2 - most people are idiots

3 - i never doubted the similarities between emails and phone calls.

4/5 - the only person not limited to these forms of communication was me because I was the admin and I was the one who set every thing up.

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