I wear a few hats. Some of my time is spent being a lawyer and consultant. Some of the time, I’m doing my best for the IAPP in its representation of you, the Canadian privacy professional. Sometimes I'm teaching and training. And some of my time is spent writing.
One of the things we produce at my firm is the monthly (or so) publication PrivacyScan and we have, on several occasions, written about how privacy interests conflict with journalism. Buckle up, because I’m going to rant about that issue now.
You see, the issue is that a free press and real journalism is very important to democracy. So is the right to privacy. More and more, these two important pillars of our society are slugging it out. Case in point is the recently launched lawsuit by a former Mount Saint Vincent University professor who claims to have been a victim of revenge porn after a student of his went public with a sexually explicit photo of him. We’ll follow the case pretty closely for a number of reasons (including that last year's Symposium speaker, Donna Wilson, is representing him), but it's particularly interesting that he is suing CTV news for publicizing his case in a story that included the sexually explicit photo.
Our private sector laws (like PIPEDA) contain the journalistic exemption. I’ve written in the past that I think we need better guidance on what this means exactly. Is blogging a new version of journalism that would allow me to disclose personal information of others? Now, the courts are going to have to come to terms with the journalistic exemption as it applies to the tort of breach of privacy (or, more specifically, the publication of private information).
Where would you draw the line? It will be good to get something concrete out of this because I think it’s an otherwise pretty awful story.
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