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Privacy Law — Labour Law Update

Posted by wjadmin — filed in Privacy Law
Employment Law – Privacy Law

Case comment on:

Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner) v. United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401 2013 S.C.C. 62

During a lawful strike lasting 305 days both the Union and the Employer videotaped and photographed individuals crossing the picket line. The Union posted signs in the area of the picketing stating that images of persons crossing the picket line might be placed on a website. A number of people filmed complained to the Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioner. The case ended up at the Supreme Court of Canada. The issue was the general rule that organizations cannot collect, use or disclose personal information without consent. It was held that by imposing restrictions on the ability of unions to communicate and persuade the public of their cause, the act impaired the ability of the Union to use one of the most effective bargaining strategies in the course of a lawful strike. This infringement of the right to freedom of expression was deemed disproportionate to the government’s objective of providing individuals with control over the personal information that they expose by crossing a picket line and was therefore unconstitutional. The declaration in validity was suspended for twelve months to give the Alberta Legislature time to decide how best to make the legislation constitutional compliant.

It is the writer’s opinion that privacy laws have gone too far in certain circumstances. Although extremely important to have privacy laws at one level, they seem to have been taken to extreme measures in some contexts. The information being collected in this case appears to have been collected in an open and public space. The people were being given notice of the fact that they were being recorded. It is not as if they were being filmed in secret or on private property. It used to be that filming or capturing images in the public was perfectly acceptable and reasonable. There does not seem to be any logic in extended these laws to covering situations where people are in the public’s fear. Good decision by the SCC.

Darryl A. Aarbo, Barrister and Solicitor

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