Friday, November 15, 2013

Unexpected implications from SCC privacy decision

Today's Supreme Court decision in  Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner) v. United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401, 2013 SCC 62 holds videotaping people crossing picket lines is protected by freedom of speech. That may have some unexpected implications. Presumably the analysis would apply to videotaping people going into, for example, abortion clinics, drug rehab centres or other places. The Court holds:

[11]                          As the parties conceded, freedom of expression under s. 2(b) is clearly engaged by the Union's activities.  The Union collected personal information by recording the picketline.  One of the primary purposes for the Union's collection of personal information was, as the Adjudicator recognized, to dissuade people from crossing the picketline: para. 51; Goss J., at paras. 31–34; Court of Appeal, at para. 64.  Recording conduct related to picketing and, in particular, recording a lawful picketline and any individuals who crossed it, is expressive activity: its purpose was to persuade individuals to support the Union.  So too is recording and potentially using or distributing recordings of persons crossing the picketline for deterring people from crossing the picketline and informing the public about the strike. 

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