Internet of Things and Big Data raise big legal issues

The internet of things and big data are separate but related hot topics. As is often the case with new technology, the definitions are fluid, the potential is unclear, and they pose challenges to legal issues.  All of these will develop over time.

Take privacy, for example.  The basic concept of big data is that huge amounts of data are collected and mined for useful information.  That flies in the face of privacy principles that no more personal info than the task at hand needs should be collected, and that it shouldn’t be kept for longer than the task at hand requires.  Both of these concepts can lead to personal info being created, while privacy laws generally focus on the concept of personal info being collected.

Another legal issue is ownership of information, and who gets to control and use it.  If no one owns a selfie taken by a monkey, then who owns information created by your car?

If anyone is interested in taking a deeper dive into these legal issues, I’ve written a bit about it here and here, and here are some recent articles others have written:

The ‘Internet of Things’ – 10 Data Protection and Privacy Challenges

Big Data, Big Privacy Issues

The Internet of Things Comes with the Legal Things

CASL software provisions & CRTC interpretation

In addition to the anti spam provisions of CASL, it contains provisions against malware starting in January 2015. It imposes disclosure and consent requirements for software providers in certain situations.

Unfortunately, those provisions are perhaps more ill-advised and unclear than the anti-spam provisions.  They have the potential to make life difficult for software companies, create additional record keeping responsibilities where none are needed, and could even hurt Canadian consumers if foreign software developers simply don’t sell their products in Canada to avoid compliance.

The IT law bar is collectively scratching their heads trying to understand what the provisions mean in practice.

When I last mentioned this, the CRTC was collecting questions to help them frame their guidance on the sections.

The CRTC will reveal their interpretation thoughts in an IT.Can webinar on November 11.

Cross posted to Slaw

Android 5.0 Lollipop has arrived

Anyone who wants the latest and greatest tablet is in luck.

Google just announced the release of its new Android 5.0 Lollipop OS, and a new Nexus 9 tablet, Nexus 6 phone, and Nexus Player streaming media player.  Lollipop will be available for existing Nexus 5, 7, and 10 devices “in the coming weeks.”

If you are an Apple fan, Apple is launching new iPads and other devices tomorrow.

I think I “need” a Nexus 9.  My iPad 2 is getting a bit slow and tired, and it would be a better companion to my Nexus 5.

Cross posted to Slaw 

Randy Bachman this weekend at Orchestra London’s Red Hot Weekends

Randy Bachman (Guess Who, Bachman-Turner Overdrive) performs with Orchestra London this Friday and Saturday night in his first ever performance with an orchestra.

More info is in James Reaney’s column where he says:

A new project, Bachman’s Symphonic Overdrive has hits from The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive such as Let it Ride, These Eyes, American Woman (Bossa Nova), You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, Taking Care of Business and more.

James quotes Randy as saying “It’s going to be an amazing spectacle.”

I’m looking forward to the concert.

Tickets are available from Orchestra London online or by calling the box office at (519) 679-8778.

(Disclosure – I’m on the Orchestra London Board)

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month

The goal of Cyber Security Awareness Month is to remind us to guard against cyber threats.  The Canadian Government getcybersafe website has resources to describe the risks and suggest ways to protect against things such as cyberbullying, scams and fraud.  It covers both personal and corporate risks for smartphones, social networking, online banking, online shopping, and more.  It also explains the differences between common threats such as pharming, phishing, and spoofing.

If you’ve ever wondered how many people actually fall for what appear to be blatant phishing attempts, take a look at this infographic that shows that even a very small percentage of phishing success translates into significant actual numbers.


Cross posted to Slaw 


Annual IT.CAN Conference October 20-21

The annual IT.CAN conference is in Montreal two weeks from now. I find the IT.CAN conferences are consistently high quality, and the best continuing legal education option for lawyers practicing in the tech space.  The fall conference has a good mix of practical updates and thought provoking forward looking issues. Any lawyer practicing IT law should check it out.

Details from IT.CAN:

The Eighteenth Annual Canadian Information Technology Law Association (“IT.CAN”) Conference will be held in Montreal, October 20-21, 2014. For the full conference brochure including registration details, please visit the website at or go to:

If you have any questions about the program please contact Lisa Ptack, IT.CAN Executive Director at


CASL Video Series


I’m taking part in a 4 part video series about CASL that deals with both Canadian and American perspectives on the anti-spam act. Here are the details:
How To Avoid The CASL Right HookLet’s face it – a lot of Canadians don’t know all the facts about the new Canada Anti-Spam Law (CASL)… and its evolving. But what you don’t know – CAN hurt you.Helping us learn more about CASL and how to prepare for it, is Canadian lawyer, +David Canton focusing on CASL, and American lawyer, Sean A. Moynihan, focusing on American Marketing. They’ll be informing, discussing and weighing in on the facts about this new law and how it opens to the doors to Class Action suits that can shut down your business – even businesses outside of Canada.

Round 1:  David informs us about CASL and recent, new developments – Sean weighs in

Round 2:  Sean gives us “The American Perspective” – David weighs in

Round 3:  Things That Will Catch You Off Guard – Social Media & Other Surprises

Round 4:  Best Practices – How To Win – Sean and David share winning strategies with us

Celebrating Small Business Owners Month!

Sign up for this complimentary, 30 minute, 4 part series, open to viewers on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, taking place on October 1st, 8th, 15th and 22nd at PST: 1:00 p.m.  /  MST: 2:00 p.m.  /  CST: 3:00 p.m.  /  EST: 4:00 p.m. (check your timezone here:

Sign in early and post your questions ahead of time and we’ll see if David and Sean can answer them.  If you miss a Show – we’ve got you covered, you can view and ask questions even after the “Live” Show.

Click here to register:

Share with anyone who has questions or concerns about CASL

See you there!

#casl   #smallbusiness   #antispam   #ns

Businesses relying more on mobile – is Blackberry still in the game?

A BMO poll released today shows the unsurprising result that the business world is becoming more reliant on mobile technology.

Lawyers were early adopters of Blackberries, for which email was the killer app.  At our firm there are only a handful of lawyers still using Blackberries.  The rest of us are split between iPhones and Android.  While Windows phones are technically as good as the others, they just can’t seem to gain ground.


Blackberry has not given up, though.  It just launched a new phone called the Passport.  Blackberry has moved from touting email as its killer feature to touting productivity and security as its killer features.  The main focus is clearly on the business market.

Only time will tell whether Blackberry can claw back market share.

Cross posted to Slaw.

Will a smartwatch be on your wrist? 10 things to ponder.

As expected, Apple introduced its Apple Watch (not iWatch) last week with great fanfare. It is actually not a single watch, but a series of watches in 2 sizes and 3 models with various types of bands.  It will be available “early 2015″.

Of course only those with iPhones can use an Apple Watch.  Those with Android phones will use one of the options running Android Wear.

The reaction to the smartwatch phenomenon has been interesting.  Traditional watch manufacturers are being dismissive about it – which  sounds a lot like how Rim (Blackberry) dismissed the iPhone when it first came out.

Things to ponder about the smartwatch market include:

  • How many people will value the advantage of not having to pull out a phone so often that they will want a smartwatch?
  • Will those who no longer wear watches because they use their phone for the time start wearing watches again?
  • Will it hurt sales of traditional watches?
  • How many traditional watch manufacturers will sell their own smartwatch versions?
  • Will people want to spend hundreds of dollars on a watch that has a far shorter life span than a traditional watch?
  • Will style trump functionality? Smartphone physical differences are subtle – but watches come in many shapes and sizes.  There has been a lot of comment on square vs round, for example.
  • Apple announced its watch with an unusually large lead time – perhaps in part to steal the thunder of the various Android Wear watches.  Will Android Wear be updated by the time the Apple Watch comes up in ways that make it more compelling?
  • The type of phone one has will dictate the Apple watch vs Android Wear watch choice.  But will some choose or change their smartphone preference based on watch choice?
  • Will the large size of a smartwatch (some might be a challenge to put tour shirt sleeve over it, for example) be a negative?
  • How much better will smartwatches become as they mature over the next few years?

I definitely want one – I’m in the Android camp – the only issue is which one, and can I hold out long enough for 2nd gen improvements?

Cross-posted to Slaw

CASL software provisions

CASL – the Canadian anti-spam legislation – contains provisions that require certain disclosure and permission requirements on the installation of software that does certain things, or when software does certain things.  This aspect of CASL has been overshadowed by the anti-spam provisions, in part because the software provisions are not in effect until January 15, 2015.

Unfortunately these software provisions are not easy to comprehend or apply in practice. There is a lot of uncertainty around their interpretation.  And IMHO they are going to cause far more harm than good.  There is a real danger that some software creators will simply not offer their products in Canada to avoid the pain of complying with CASL.

Yesterday CRTC and Industry Canada representatives were at a Canadian IT Law Association teleconference to collect questions from the IT bar to help them prepare FAQ’s or guides to the CASL software provisions.  That guidance should be a big help to understanding the legislation.

Unfortunately they did not give us any hints at all on their thoughts on interpretation.  They are aiming to publish their material in November or December, which, as one participant commented, is far too late.  Compliance will be more complicated than tweaking a EULA.  Software vendors will require time to create new processes and verbiage to comply.   Then back that up through an effective lost 2 weeks over the holidays, and the time it will take to digest and advise clients on what they have to do….

Cross-posted to Slaw