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  • 7 Nov 2019 4:02 PM | Deleted user

    Edited dashcam video sufficiently reliable

    In Dainov v. Leethe Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted a motion for summary judgement to dismiss the action involving a minor car crash based solely the evidence from one of the car’s dashboard cameras and the parties’ testimonies. In essence, the only important evidence concerning the accident came from the dashcam, and unless that evidence was inadmissible the defendant would succeed. Because it was admitted, the plaintiff’s case was dismissed.

    To be admissible the video had to be a fair and accurate representation of the events, and not impair trial fairness. The plaintiff objected to the use of the video on the basis of three arguments: 1) the video was edited to show only the first 26 seconds leading up to the collision; 2) the original video and the dashboard camera were no longer available, and; 3) the limited field of view of the dashboard camera made the video unreliable.

    The judge rejected all three of these reasons. Although only a short period before the accident was on the video, the portion edited out was from another location and was not relevant. Although the plaintiff argued that portion of the video would have shown the road conditions on the night, the parties did not disagree about that. The plaintiff did not explain why the original would be required, and had not suggested the video was doctored in any way. With respect to the third argument, any camera has a limited field of view, but the narrow field in this case was sufficient to demonstrate the positions and speed of the vehicles involved, and clearly indicated the defendant gave the plaintiff a reasonable opportunity to avoid a collision.

  • 24 Oct 2019 4:09 PM | Deleted user

    Without first-hand evidence or testimony about the reliability of how it was taken, Google mapping images are not admissible

    The Third District Court of Appeal of Florida in City of Miami v. Juanita Kho reversed and remanded a trial court’s decision that accepted a Google Maps photograph (presumably taken by a Google Street View car) into evidence without proof of authentication. The Court of Appeal instead held that a photo taken from Google Street View will be subject to the same authentication requirements of any other photograph. In Florida, this is addressed in s. 90.901 of the Florida Evidence Code.

    The underlying dispute had to do with a trip-and-fall accident in 2010 on a sidewalk. The plaintiff alleged that a difference of 1 ¼ inches between the sidewalk and a patch created a “dangerous and defective condition” resulting in the trip and subsequent fall. To prove her case, the plaintiff had to prove actual or constructive knowledge of the situation on the part of the defendant city.

    The plaintiff had attempted to demonstrate this constructive knowledge by using a Google image of the sidewalk at issue, which was dated November 2007. The incident occurred in 2010.

    The defendant objected to the admission of any internet photograph or map unless it was properly authenticated. During the hearing, the trial court said that a Google image is not “self-authenticating”, would be treated like any other photograph and thus require authentication by testimony.

    The plaintiff’s expert testified that there was no substantial difference between the Google photograph and the photograph that was taken of the same location on the date of the plaintiff’s fall. Because the expert had not visited the location of the fall prior to 2010, he was unable to claim that the site of the fall three years before, when the Google image was taken, was in fact similar to the date of the fall. The plaintiff also did not introduce any testimony from a Google representative who may be able to speak to the image or how it was created.

    At trial, the court overruled the defendant’s objection to admitting the Google photo as evidence without any additional testimony.

    On appeal, the court strictly followed Section 90.901 of the Florida Evidence Code. The Court of Appeal stated at page 4 of its decision that “a Google Maps image must be authenticated in the same manner as any other photographic evidence before it is admitted in evidence”. This can be done using one of two methods:

    1. the “pictorial testimony” method, which requires a witness to have personal knowledge and testify that the image fairly and accurately depicts the scene, or
    2. the “silent witness” method, which requires that photograph “may be admitted upon proof of the reliability of the process which produced the tap or photo.

    The Google image was not authenticated by either of these methods in the trial court, so the first ground was not satisfied by the plaintiff’s expert who had not attended the scene before 2010.

    On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the photograph may be authenticated under the “silent witness” method. This was not successful, because the plaintiff “did not present any evidence as to the operating capabilities or condition of the equipment used by Google Maps”, or the procedures that Google Maps’ employees used to take the photograph, or any other relevant factors listed in precedents dealing with photos.

    The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision and remanded the case with instructions that judgment be entered for the defendant.

  • 24 Oct 2019 10:58 AM | Deleted user

    Limited rights to discovery prior to certification did not lead to production of full database of affected users.

    Once again, privacy class action lawyers have suffered a setback on their path to certification in privacy breach cases. This time, it’s in Karasik v. Yahoo Inc. where plaintiffs’ counsel were rebuffed in their attempt to obtain access to the database of all of Yahoo!’s sixteen million customers in Canada. The case is rooted in the infamous data breaches of 2013 – 2016 and a putative class action was commenced in 2016 in the Ontario courts. Prior to certification, the plaintiff brought a motion to compel the production of Yahoo’s Canadian user database.

    The motion was made after Yahoo! Inc. delivered multiple affidavits on the hearing of the certification motion. One affidavit was a statement by Dr. Ghose, an expert in information systems. The expert had been given access to the database in order to prepare the affidavit. Prior to the cross-examination, the plaintiffs requested the production of the database and Yahoo! refused.

    Prior to certification, production of records and evidence is generally limited. For documentary discovery at this stage, the judge required that the party making the request must demonstrate that the demand is proportionate, fair, and necessary for the certification motion.

    In light of the significant evidence adduced by Yahoo! Inc, the judge concluded that the request was disproportionate to the needs of the certification motion. In addition, the plaintiffs did not successfully displace the burden of proving why the database would be necessary, other than a statement that the database would be necessary for cross-examination of the witness. There was no evidence to suggest that the database may be inaccurate. As a result, the plaintiffs’ motion was denied.

  • 24 Oct 2019 10:57 AM | Deleted user

    Records capable of being confirmatory evidence

    A relatively novel use of cell phone tower evidence was at issue in R v Saleh. Evidence that an accused’s cell phone has pinged a particular cell phone tower is not infrequently used directly as evidence placing that accused in the vicinity of an offence, in order to show guilt. In Saleh, however, the evidence was used more indirectly.

    The accused was charged with and convicted of first degree murder. Both the accused and the victim were involved in the drug trade, and the Crown argued that the accused had killed the victim because of a dispute related to that. Important evidence against the accused came from two witnesses also involved in the drug trade, one of whom had also been charged with the same murder but had made a deal in exchange for his testimony. Because these were two “unsavoury witnesses”, the trial judge was required to give the jury a Vetrovec caution about their evidence. That is, the judge was required to instruct the jury that they should show the greatest care and caution before accepting the evidence of those witnesses, unless there was confirmatory evidence of their testimony. That confirmatory evidence had to be independent and had to support or confirm material parts of the witnesses’ testimony.

    The accused objected on appeal that the trial judge had wrongly pointed to cell phone tower evidence as capable of being such confirmatory evidence. The location of the shooting was a secluded rural area west of Ottawa, and records relating to cell phone use and cell phone towers placed the co-accused witness and the accused in relevant areas at relevant times. The accused argued that this should not be seen as confirmatory evidence: it was not material in respect of whether he was involved in the killing. Because those records were irrelevant to the question of his role in the killing, he argued, they did not meet the materiality requirement.

    The Ontario Court of Appeal found no error in the trial judge’s reference to those records as satisfying the confirmatory purposes of a Vetrovec caution. Confirmatory evidence need not directly implicate the accused: it is sufficient that it be reasonably capable of strengthening the jury’s belief that the witness is telling the truth on an important aspect of the case. In this instance the cell phone and cell tower records confirmed the attendance of the accused and the witness at the remote site contemporaneous with the killing: that made it potentially material confirmatory evidence, and so the trial judge had not erred in pointing to that possible use of the evidence.

  • 24 Oct 2019 10:56 AM | Deleted user

    Section 714.1 application for witness to testify by video conference denied

    With its decision in R v Musseau the Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Court provided guidance on the use of section 714.1 of the Criminal Code, which allows a witness to “give evidence by means of technology that permits the witness to testify elsewhere in Canada in the virtual presence of the parties and the court”. Finding that the preconditions for such an order had not been met the trial judge dismissed the application, but provided guidance about the use of the section nonetheless.

    The trial was to occur in Corner Brook Newfoundland, but the complainant was in New Brunswick and did not wish to appear personally, and so the Crown made a section 714.1 application concerning her appearance. The judge pointed out that the Crown’s application simply referred to the complainant in the case (the spouse of the accused, who was charged with assaulting her) appearing by “video conference”, without any description of the actual technology to be used. Section 714.1 requires that the technology make it possible for the witness to be in the “virtual presence” of the parties and the court, and without such evidence he was unable to assess the application. The judge noted that:

    [20]…section 714.1 does not, as does section 714.3 of the Criminal Code (evidence of a witness by audio link), specifically require the Court to consider “any potential prejudice to either of the parties caused by the fact that the witness would not be seen by them”. This is a recognition of the significant difference between virtual testimony and audio testimony. Having said this, prejudice to an accused person’s ability to make full answer and defence must always be considered.

    Further, the requirement for “virtual presence” was an important and meaningful one. An accused is entitled to face their accuser: although that was not to be taken literally, appearance by video technology had to accomplish the goals behind that principle. Video link technology was sufficiently sophisticated that that goal could be accomplished through its use. Indeed, the judge acknowledged at para 40 the possibility that “the use of video appearances are so common that the virtual presence requirement can be assumed or judicially acknowledged.” Nonetheless he decided that evidence concerning the nature of the technology actually to be used was necessary, and had to be provided either in writing as part of the application or in some other fashion.

    In addition it was necessary to have evidence about the location from which the witness would be testifying, such as whether it would be a courtroom or something similar: the judge needed to be able to consider “whether the witness will face the same level of solemnity offered by a courtroom and whether he or she will be as free from outside influences while testifying as she or he would be if they were to testify in person before the trial judge” (para 34).

    Summarizing the usefulness of section 714.1 (and quoting his own previous decision on the same issue in another case), the judge noted at para 42:

    Section 714.1 of the Criminal Code is designed, in part, to lessen the financial cost and inconvenience caused by requiring witnesses to travel to testify in person to an area in which they do not reside. In a country as large as Canada, it would be foolhardy to stymie the use of such appearances. The reality is that modern technology has made the requirement for personal presence, in many instances, unnecessary and superfluous. Our courts must not ignore the reality of modern technological developments in assessing a demand for the personal presence of a witness. 

    In this case, because of inadequacies in the form and content of the affidavits, and the failure therefore to establish the requirements of the section, the trial judge denied the application.

  • 10 Oct 2019 11:42 AM | Deleted user

    European Court determines that EU law does not provide for (but does not prohibit) global search result delisting

    The European Court of Justice (Grand Chamber) has ruled that Google does not have to apply the right to be forgotten globally. The proceeding stemmed from an imposition by the French data protection authority (CNIL) of a EUR 100,000 fine against Google for not deindexing search results across all its search properties. Google had implemented geoblocking that prevented access to certain search results within the European Union, but CNIL found this to be insufficient.

    The court proceeding, on the basis of the former Data Protection Directive, found:

    64 It follows that, currently, there is no obligation under EU law, for a search engine operator who grants a request for de-referencing made by a data subject, as the case may be, following an injunction from a supervisory or judicial authority of a Member State, to carry out such a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine.

    Importantly, the court also noted that while EU law does not require orders with global effect, it does not prohibit them. Member states are free to adopt national laws that require global censorship.

  • 10 Oct 2019 11:41 AM | Deleted user

    Agreement will provide for mutual recognition of court orders and remove existing barriers

    The United States Department of Justice and the United Kingdom Home Office have announced that the two countries have signed a bilateral agreement “On Access to Electronic Data for the Purpose of Countering Serious Crime”. The Agreement is intended to be a bilateral agreement of the type anticipated under the CLOUD Act. Passed in March 2018, partially to address the litigation against Microsoft related to evidence in Ireland, the CLOUD Act authorizes the United States to enter into executive agreements with other countries that meet specific criteria related to rule of law, civil rights and privacy. Once laid before Congress and approved, the result is to lift each party’s legal barriers that prevent one country’s legal processes from being recognized in the other. Many countries have been seeking an alternative to the traditional channels of mutual legal assistance, which are seen as time consuming and cumbersome. In many cases, US-service providers are prohibited from providing the content of communications except in response to a US court order, requiring the requesting law enforcement agency to go through MLAT and sometimes putting the service provider between a rock and a hard place.

    On the UK side of the equation, changes were made in UK law to permit this under the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Act 2019, which received Royal Assent in February 2019. The Agreement will enter into force following a six-month Congressional review period mandated by the CLOUD Act, and the related review by UK’s Parliament.

    Australia has already announced that it is seeking its own CLOUD Act executive agreement, and Canada is rumoured to be in similar discussions.

    It should be noted that initial reporting on this was conflated with recent declarations regarding encryption and access to cleartext of communications, so that some outlets reported that this agreement would require access to unencrypted communications, which is specifically excluded from the CLOUD Act.

  • 10 Oct 2019 11:40 AM | Deleted user

    Interpretation of UK Data Protection Act needs to be grounded in the European Charter and applicable principles

    The United Kingdom Court of Appeal has given the green light in a class action against Google related to the collection of “browser generated information”, or “BGI”. The Court Richard Lloyd v Google LLCreversed the decision of the judge below, who held that the putative representative plaintiff could not serve Google LLC outside of the UK in the proceeding and that Google could not be liable for damages without proving further pecuniary loss.

    The plaintiff allege that Google created a “workaround” for functionality built into the Safari browser to block third party cookies, such as Google’s advertising cookie. This has already been the subject of various lawsuits and investigations in the United States.

    The Court of Appeal disagreed with Google argument that the representative plaintiff would need to prove causation and consequential damages according to section 13(1) of the Data Protection Act (“DPA”).

    13(1) An individual who suffers damage by reason of any contravention by a data controller of any of the requirements of this Act is entitled to compensation from the data controller for that damage.

    While this is a provision in UK Law, the Court of Appeal conducted its analysis on the basis that it is a matter of EU law. If a purely domestic statutory construction was applied, section 13 would require proof of both a contravention of the law and actual consequent damage, whether pecuniary or non-pecuniary. What changed the analysis was the introduction in 2012 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, “addressed to… Member States only when they [were] implementing [EU] law” (para 41). Article 8 of the Charter, titled “Protection of personal data” confirmed the protection of data rights under EU law:

    1. Everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning him or her.
    2. Such data must be processed fairly for specified purposes and on the basis of the consent of the person concerned or some other legitimate basis laid down by law. Everyone has the right of access to data which has been collected concerning him or her, and the right to have it rectified.
    3. Compliance with these rules shall be subject to control by an independent authority.

    The Court of Appeal concluded that because the Data Protection Act was enacted to give effect to EU law, the provisions of the Charter undergird the rights under the DPA: From Paragraph 41:

    The DPA was enacted to implement EU law, so the provisions of the Charter became applicable to data rights under the DPA after it was introduced.

    Interpretation of the DPA must take into account the Charter and similarly consider those terms as giving effect to the provisions set out in the Charter. As a result, what is harm compensable by damages is determined by EU law and not domestic UK law. And under EU law, the court considered (a) whether control over data is an asset that has value, and (b) whether there are compensatory “damages” within the legal definition of the word.

    With respect to the first question, the Court concluded that the data at issue was an asset that has value. Though UK law has hesitated to see data as property, EU law clearly affords it protection. That it could be monetized for advertising purposes reinforced the value it has. As a result, the Court concluded that an aggrieved person can recover damages under section 13 of the DPA and Article 23 of the EU Data Protection Directive.

    For the second question, the Court relied on the case of Gulati v. MGN Limited [2015] EWHC 1482 (Ch) (Mann J), [2015] EWCA Civ 1291 (CA) (“Gulati”) which had held that damages are available without proof of pecuniary loss or distress for the tort of misuse of private information (“MPI”). Though MPI is a different legal basis for a claim, the Court of Appeal determined that Gulati was relevant and applicable by analogy because the misuse of private information tort and the DPA claim both derive from the same core rights to privacy. Further, the loss of control over telephone data in Gulati by the defendant newspaper company hacking phones was held to be damage that was compensable, and therefore Google’s acquisition of browser generated information must also be compensable.

    The Court of Appeal also determined that the judge below erred in determining that the members of the class did not have the same interest under the relevant Civil Procedure Rules related to class and representative proceedings, and were not identifiable.

    The plaintiff was seeking to represent claimants whose BGI was taken by Google without their consent, in the same circumstances, and during the same period. This was not dependent on personal circumstances that would vary among individual claimants. The effect of this results in reducing the damages that could be claimed to the lowest common denominator.

    The Court of Appeal granted the appellant’s appeal and the case can proceed.

  • 10 Oct 2019 11:39 AM | Deleted user

    Accused’s Facebook posts and texts considered “after the fact conduct,” supporting murder conviction

    In R. v. Café (2019 ONCA 775, no hyperlink available), the accused appealed his conviction at trial for first degree murder. Part of the evidence against him had been text messages that he had sent to friends after the victim’s death, in which he boasted about the murder, as well as Facebook posts containing photos of the victim’s body (taken before the police arrived at the scene) and rap lyrics relating to the death. The trial judge ruled that the texts, photos and rap lyrics could be considered by the jury as “after-the-fact conduct evidence” (which used to be called “evidence of consciousness of guilt”), specifically relating to whether the accused had planned the killing of the victim. Some of the materials were suggestive of a motive to kill the victim because he was a religious man, and suggested that the accused had therefore planned to kill the victim as a way to “mock God.” At trial the accused had testified that he did not plan the killing, but spontaneously did it in order to satisfy voices in his head which were instructing him to murder the victim.

    The accused argued on appeal that the trial judge had erred in this ruling, but the Court of Appeal dismissed this argument. This was not just evidence that implicated the accused in the murder generally, but which had specific probative value towards the exact issues to which the jury had been directed—whether the accused had an established motive for violence toward the victim, and whether he had planned the killing. It had been open to the jury to conclude that the Facebook posts and texts were consistent with motive and the plan to “insult God,” rather than supporting the story regarding voices in the accused’s head. The trial judge had given specific instructions regarding the rap lyrics, which were full of disturbing images and profanity, and ensured that the jury knew to use them only to assess motive and planning, and not to reflect on the accused’s general character for violence.

  • 10 Oct 2019 11:38 AM | Deleted user

    Court applies Marakah, holds accused has expectation of privacy in wife’s surreptitiously-obtained copies of his data

    In R. v. King, the accused was charged with accessing and possessing child pornography images. The accused shared a house with his wife, from whom he was estranged. At one point she suspected him of marital infidelity and, having earlier observed him putting his passcode into his phone, memorized the code. When she later unlocked the phone and looked for evidence of his infidelity, she found images she thought were child pornography. Some time later she looked through his desktop computer and one of his tablets, and found similar images. She used her phone to take pictures of some of the suspicious images displayed on all three devices, saved these pictures to a USB key, and gave the USB to the police. An officer viewed the images on the USB key and determined they might be child pornography. The police obtained a search warrants for the accused’s devices (in his house and car), and eventually seized 34 devices, 7 of which contained child pornography images. The accused made a pre-trial motion, to Judge Allan Fradsham of the Alberta Provincial Court, for a declaration that his protections against unreasonable search and seizure under s. 8 of the Charter had been violated.

    While the accused’s wife was not a state agent, Judge Fradsham nonetheless analyzed whether the accused had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the images vis-à-vis the state, and whether there had been a breach of s. 8, in accordance with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R. v. Marakah. He held that, “in the case at bar which involves electronic data, when determining the true subject matter of the search, one looks beyond the physical object in which the data is stored and considers the data itself and whether the accused had a reasonable expectation of privacy in that data.” Here, while the object being searched was the USB key (when the police initially viewed it), the subject matter of the search was “the collection of images on the USB drive as taken from the screens of Mr. King’s electronic devices, and what it told them about Mr. King.” That is, the target of the search was personal information about the accused. Moreover, the accused obviously had a subjective expectation of privacy in the material, given that all of his devices were password-protected.

    As to whether the accused’s expectation of privacy was reasonable, Judge Fradsham first noted that the location of search was of no practical use in the analysis, since the “place” was the USB key, of which the accused had been unaware. The subject matter of the search was clearly private information, since data on an accused’s computer was generally so (R. v. Morelli), and evidence of criminal activity was something that people would have a particular interest in keeping private (R. v. Patrick). The accused had had control over the subject matter of the search, and the fact that he lost that control was not fatal to the reasonableness of his expectation of privacy:

    [130] That said, control is not the exclusive consideration that informs the existence of a reasonable expectation of personal privacy. And there are exceptional cases where control is not necessary. Where a loss of control over the subject matter is involuntary, such as where a person is in police custody or the subject matter is stolen from the person by a third party, then a reasonable expectation of personal privacy may persist: see Stillman[6], at paras. 61-62(privacy may persist in a tissue discarded while in police custody); R. v. Law,2002 SCC 10 (CanLII), [2002] 1 S.C.R. 227, at para. 28 (privacy may persist in a safe stolen by a third party)...[quoting from Marakah, per Moldaver J]

    Turning to the search, the judge noted that since the accused had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the images, he had standing to assert his s. 8 rights. While the wife had consented to the search of the USB key, as a matter of law one person could not waive another’s Charter rights. Therefore, the initial search of the USB key had been warrantless and not authorized by law, and thus unreasonable. The subsequent warrants had depended upon information obtained from the first warrantless search, and thus those searches were also unreasonable. Accordingly, the searches had breached the accused’s rights under s. 8. Arguments regarding the exclusion of the evidence under s. 24(2) of the Charter were to be heard at an unspecified future date.

  

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