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Gil Zvulony’s Expert Opinion Cited by Federal Justice Minister

The federal government has introduced Bill C-13 ostensibly as an effort to address the problem of cyber-bullying.  In November 2013, Toronto Internet Lawyer Gil Zvulony gave his views on the proposed legislation to the CBC.

Recently, in a letter to the editor touting the benefits of Bill C-13, Justice Minister, Peter Mackay, cited Gil Zvulony’s opinion opinion about the Bill.  He referred to Gil Zvulony’s interview with the CBC where Mr. Zvulony stated that “…there is a logical theme to all of this, in the sense that it’s trying to modernize [the code] for the digital age”.

 

 

Online Harrasment

https://pixabay.com/en/users/Jedidja-837884/

Gil Zvulony on City News

Toronto Internet Lawyer, Gil Zvulony, recently spoke to CITY TV NEWS regarding a man who was convicted of harassing several women online.  Mr. Zvulony stressed that people need to be aware that online actions, such as stalking and harassment, can have real world consequences, such as criminal prosecution.

Canada’s Anti Spam Legislation

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Toronto Internet Lawyer, Gil Zvulony recently spoke to the Business News Network (BNN) about Canada’s new Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).  The law came into effect on July 1, 2014.  The law prohibits the sending of most commercial electronic messages without the prior consent of the recipient.

General information about CASL can be found at: http://fightspam.gc.ca

Policing YouTube

By Dennisvgils (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

CBCToronto Internet Lawyer, Gil Zvulony recently spoke to the national media regarding the ability of YouTube to monitor its videos for threatening behaviour.  The discussion arose out of a murderer’s apparent warnings and threats on YouTube prior to committing his crimes.  Gil Zvulony’s positions was that YouTube should not be held responsible for matters that it is not aware of.

You can read the stories here:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/elliot-rodger-killings-show-difficulty-of-policing-youtube-1.2654778

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/05/27/elliot-rodger-youtube_n_5395933.html

The Law on TheDirty.com

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Gil-ZvulonyToronto Internet Lawyer, Gil Zvulony recently spoke to CityNews about theDirty.com (see clip above).  The Dirty.com is a website where people can anonymously post photos and make comments about others. It is often used as a forum for defamation and cyber-bullying.  The law as it relates to theDirty.com and websites like it are complex.  Many different areas of law are engaged such as defamation law, copyright law, criminal law, privacy law and international law.

For further reading on some common legal issues that arise with sites like theDirty.com see the following :

 

Criminal Harassment on Twitter

By 112.Georgia (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Gil-ZvulonyToronto Internet Lawyer, Gil Zvulony spoke to Matt Galloway of CBC’s metro morning about a Toronto man who was charged by with criminal harassment for his alleged behaviour on Twitter.  Gil’s advice before you Tweet: “If you are not prepared to say directly to a person in a crowded room then don’t publish it on Twitter.”


http://www.cbc.ca/player/AudioMobile/Metro%2BMorning/ID/2428690175/


The relevant section in the Criminal Code reads as follows:

Criminal harassment

264. (1) No person shall, without lawful authority and knowing that another person is harassed or recklessly as to whether the other person is harassed, engage in conduct referred to in subsection (2) that causes that other person reasonably, in all the circumstances, to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them.

Prohibited conduct

(2) The conduct mentioned in subsection (1) consists of

(a) repeatedly following from place to place the other person or anyone known to them;

(b) repeatedly communicating with, either directly or indirectly, the other person or anyone known to them;

(c) besetting or watching the dwelling-house, or place where the other person, or anyone known to them, resides, works, carries on business or happens to be; or

(d) engaging in threatening conduct directed at the other person or any member of their family.

Punishment

(3) Every person who contravenes this section is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Factors to be considered

(4) Where a person is convicted of an offence under this section, the court imposing the sentence on the person shall consider as an aggravating factor that, at the time the offence was committed, the person contravened

(a) the terms or conditions of an order made pursuant to section 161 or a recognizance entered into pursuant to section 810, 810.1 or 810.2; or

(b) the terms or conditions of any other order or recognizance made or entered into under the common law or a provision of this or any other Act of Parliament or of a province that is similar in effect to an order or recognizance referred to in paragraph (a).

Reasons

(5) Where the court is satisfied of the existence of an aggravating factor referred to in subsection (4), but decides not to give effect to it for sentencing purposes, the court shall give reasons for its decision.

Can Google Read My Emails?

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Toronto Internet Lawyer, Gil Zvulony, spoke recently to CTV news about Google’s practice of scanning emails.  Users of Gmail will notice that they see advertisements on their Gmail page.  Google scans the content of the email in order to serve an advertisement that is  relevant to the content of the email.  For example, a Gmail user might see an ad for a new car if she is reading an email from a car dealer.  While this practice has been in place for several years, a group in the US have taken Google to court over this practice claiming that it violates a person’s expectation that the email will be kept private.

Gil Zvulony’s opinion is that such a practice is legal in Canada and that the lawsuit in the US will likely fail.   Google’s practice is done automatically, without any humans reading the email.  It is done in connection with providing the service.  Furthermore, Google, and most web based email services already scan emails for other purposes such as filtering spam or to make the email searchable.

You can see the video clip here: http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=232121&binId=1.810401&playlistPageNum=1

 

 

Should I Incorporate?

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by Shaya Silber

Entrepreneurs who are at the early stages of building their business are faced with numerous questions. One of the biggest questions for new ventures is what business form they will operate under. The two most common forms of business structures for small businesses are corporations and sole proprietorships. (Partnerships are also an option, but are less common). Incorporation offers numerous advantages, but also include a number of added responsibilities for the business.

Corporations

Incorporating offers a number of advantages to operating a business. The most important of which is limitation of liability to the corporation. A corporation is considered an independent legal entity from their shareholders/owners.  This means that the assets that are owned by the corporation are separate from the personal assets of the corporation’s owner(s). This can be beneficial if the business runs into liability down the road. If the business is found to be liable, the liability is limited to the assets of the corporation (there are some situations where a court will “pierce the corporate veil”, and go behind the corporation to hold its personally owners liable – most commonly in situations involving fraud).

Corporations also have additional responsibilities. For example, a separate tax return must be prepared for the corporation. Additionally, financial statements should be prepared and annual meetings should be held.

Corporations are also taxed differently than sole proprietorships. In some instances this can serve as an advantage, and in other cases it can be a disadvantage. Before incorporating, you should have a discussion with an accountant regarding tax implications.

Sole Proprietorship

A simpler form of operating a business is via a sole proprietorship.  The advantage of a sole proprietorship is that the owner directly owns the entire business. The owner may also deduct some expenses from her income.  Another major advantage to operating a sole proprietorship is that it is much easier and cheaper to set-up than a corporation.

The biggest disadvantage to operating a sole proprietorship, is that the personal assets of the owner (such as a house, car, investments etc), are no different from the assets of the business. If the business is found to be liable for any reason, a creditor can seize the owner’s personal assets to satisfy the debt.

 

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Effective Client Communication

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On December 12, 2012, Gil Zvulony will be speaking to a group of lawyers and other legal practitioners at the Commons Institute’s annual Solo and Small Firm Summit 2012.

Mr. Zvulony will discuss how technology can be used to improve client communication.  The program has been accredited by the Law Society of Upper Canada of the Law Society’s CPD requirement.

Defamation and Anonymous Postings on the Internet

By Akshayhallur (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Shaya Silber

When will an internet service provider be ordered to provide personal information about one of it’s customers?  The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) recently released dealt with this issue in the case of A.B. v. Bragg Communications.

The case involved a child was who was bullied and subjected to sexualized defamatory content online.   A fake profile was created on Facebook containing photos of the plaintiff, as well as sexually explicit details about the plaintiff, much of which was false and damaging.

The plaintiff, through her father, contacted Facebook to remove the profile. Facebook removed the profile, and provided the IP (internet protocal) address of the person who created the profile.   The IP address was traced back to an internet service provider called Bragg Communications.  Bragg Communications has issued the IP address to one of its customers, and presumably knew the name and contact information of that customer.

The plaintiff sued Bragg Communications to turn over the  subscriber information for the IP address.  In addition to the subscriber information, the plaintiff asked the court to remain anonymous throughout the proceedings, and for a publication ban on the content in question.

The Lower Court Decision – Open Courts Should Trump Anonymity

The lower court agreed that the ISP should turn over the subscriber information, but refused the plaintiff’s request for anonymity and for a publication ban. The court’s reasons were grounded in the long-standing principle of open courts and freedom of the press. The “open court” principle and freedom of the press are long-standing principles that are fundamental to any democratic society. Opening the judicial process to the public allows transparency and accountability. If courts were closed to the public, it can pave the way for corruption and totalitarianism. Freedom of the press is partly grounded in the same notion.

An exception to the open court principle can be made where there is evidence that specific harm will come to an individual if they are identified in court proceedings. In the current case, the lower courts found that there was no evidence of specific harm to the plaintiff in this case, and denied her request to remain anonymous.

Supreme Court of Canada Recognized the Harm of Going Public

The Supreme Court disagreed with the lower courts and overturned their ruling with respect to the anonymity issue.

The Court found that in these cases, an exception could be made. In cyber-bullying situations where the victim is a child, and the child is the subject of sexualized defamatory content, there is objective discernable harm to plaintiff.  Such a person needs to be protected.  Publication of their identity and of the defamatory postings would cause harm to the plaintiff. The Court ruled that the victim could remain anonymous.

Importantly, the Court created a presumption that there will be harm because the victim is a child who is likely going to be subjected to further cyber-bullying if she were identified in the proceedings.