Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Website: Mathew Englander, privacy advocate

Mathew Englander was one of the very first complainants under PIPEDA. According to sources at the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, his complaint was sent by e-mail on January 1, 2001 at 12:01 am. He complained that Telus, the phone company in British Columbia, violated PIPEDA by requiring the payment of a fee to have an unlisted number. His complaint was determined by George Radwanski to be not well founded" (See PIPEDA Case Summary #8). Mr. Englander took the case to the Federal Court, where Blais J. agreed with Radwanski (See Englander v. Telus, [2003] FCT 75). The case is now under appeal and Mr. Englander has made his Memorandum of Fact and Law [PDF] for the appeal available on his website. His website also has other links, including a page on telemarketing rules in Canada.

The Englander case will be one to watch, because it raises some very important issues that need to be sorted out. One question is how much of an obligation do consumers have to educate themselves about a company's privacy practices and policies? Telus apparently never told customers about the option of having an unlisted number or of having their names included in the normal directory but left off CD-Roms sold to marketing companies. There is also an issue of how PIPEDA interacts with other statutes or regulators, such as the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, which had OK'd the Telus practices. Finally, there is the key issue of whether the hearing before the Federal Court is really a completely de novo hearing or whether the Privacy Commissioner should be granted some curial deference. Stay tuned!

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