The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto
It’s not everyday that an edgy, youth-focused, and (amazingly) growing media organization names a professor of political science one of their “humans of the year,” but this is exactly what happened for Ron Deibert. Motherboard, the science and technology section of Vice, has added Deibert into their ongoing series because of his work with Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. The team at Citizen Lab are exposing the most sophisticated digital surveillance and hacking techniques that are being used by governments around the world. They’re also the feature of a film called Black Code, which is based on a book by Deibert of the same name. The film will be premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival on April 6th, 2017.
Silicon Valley Moving North?
Amid speculation that President Trump might be issuing an executive order that modifies H-1B work visas, technology companies in the Silicon Valley and beyond are looking at Vancouver as a possible destination for their affected employees. Google, Microsoft, and Amazon already have offices in Canada, and Bloomberg reports that they’re already placing staff in these offices while they wait for American visas to be issued. An open letter from the Canadian technology sector, urging Canada to offer immediate entry visas to those impacted by the potential executive order, has been signed by over 3,400 members of the community.
The Right to be Forgotten in Canada
Michael Geist, a leading Canadian technology and legal scholar, has observed that a Federal Court decision might allow courts to order Google to remove items from its search results. The European Union adopted the right to be forgotten in 2014, which allows citizens to request that information about them be removed from Google and Bing search results. Since it was enacted, Google has received over 700,000 requests to have personal information removed. The Canadian case, Geist says, involves a Romanian website that downloaded thousands of Canadian judicial decisions from CanLII (a free database that is not indexed by Google) and posted on them in a way that made them appear in Google’s search results. The Romanian website then asks for a fee for expedited removal of the information. Geist writes that the courts have been arguing over if they have jurisdiction over the foreign site, which uses Canadian content and primarily affects Canadian citizens. The new decision suggests that a request could be sent to Google to remove the offending content from their search results, although Google is not required to act. But if they do, Geist writes, then: [T]he court may have created the equivalent of a Canadian right to be forgotten and opened up an important debate on the jurisdictional reach of privacy law as well as on striking the balance between privacy and freedom of expression.”