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Privacy concerns result in tech clash with the United States

Canada residents are putting more and more of their personal information on the Internet. Meanwhile, governments are trying to access this information as a part of litigation and corporate seedings. However, tech companies are becoming increasingly more brazen in attempting to protect the privacy of the users of their technology.

Recently, Microsoft sued the U.S. Justice Department over the way the Justice Department used court orders to require Microsoft to give up the personal information of its users contained in its computer systems. Often those information requests were made without notifying the individual customers involved. This lawsuit is only the latest in a string of legal challenges initiated by tech companies relating to their customers' privacy. Apple also fought a case over the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's demand to unlock an encrypted iPhone. Apple is challenging other such demands relating to other cases.

The battle for privacy is also being waged in Canada, which came to a head not long ago relating to BCE Inc.'s targeted advertising programs on the Internet. The advertising program snooped on the browsing habits of cellphone users, in addition to their phone calls and app usage, in order to give special information to third-party advertisers who wanted to show tailored ad content. The issue sparked a federal investigation by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and a complaint filed with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission.

The OPC inquiry finished last April, but even though the results of the inquiry should have forced BCE to give its customers the ability to opt into the snooping behavior rather than it being implemented automatically, the OPC could not enforce the matter. The OPC did, however, say that it was considering whether to bring the matter forward in court, and the BCE vowed to withdraw the program.

Internet privacy is a concern of Canada businesses and residents throughout the county. Those with questions regarding internet privacy rights may want to consult with a lawyer to determine their legal rights and privileges relating to the matter.

Source: Metr, "Microsoft suit is latest tech clash with US over privacy," Brandon Bailey, April 15, 2016

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