Canadian Competition Bureau Calls on Businesses to Provide Information on Anti-competitive Conduct in the Digital Economy

Like regulatory agencies everywhere, Canada’s Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) is grappling with the fast-changing digital economy and its implications for competition and innovation. The development of new technologies, their rapid uptake by business, and the deployment of new data-driven business models has left regulators – chiefly privacy and competition regulators – examining whether these new types of business models now pose regulatory threats not previously appreciated.

On May 22, 2019 the federal government unveiled a Digital Charter with 10 principles by which the government proposes Canada should adapt to an economy characterized by artificial intelligence and data-driven products and services.

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Claims for Both Punitive Damages and Damages for Intrusion Upon Seclusion Survive

The Issue

Does entering someone’s house while he is out of the country and stealing his personal documents amount to conduct that is so reprehensible that it might warrant an award for punitive damages on top of damages for breach of privacy? This was the question addressed by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Furfari v Pedias, 2019 ONSC 4278 (“Furfari”).

The Facts

The Plaintiff, Mr. Furfari, had previously been friends with the Defendant, Mr. Pedias, and his brother Mario, who was the vice-president of the company that the Plaintiff had previously worked for, and which was now suing him in unrelated action.

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Lack of Signature Block in Emails Fatal to Debt Enforcement

If you find work-related emails to be ubiquitous, you will likely find the same of signature “blocks”, setting out the sender’s name, position and contact information. Block signatures, however, have real legal impact. A recent British Columbia decision (Lesko v. Solhjell, 2019 BCCRT 941) on this point is instructive for any sender or recipient of electronic messaging related to a transaction.

The decision arose from a personal debt matter. At issue was whether emails and texts from the debtor contained an acknowledgment of liability. If not, the claim was statute-barred for tardiness since it was filed (just) over two years after the original demand for payment.

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Towards “Trustworthy” Artificial Intelligence

Governments have become concerned with artificial intelligence’s (“AI“) responsible use given the continued proliferation of AI technologies across industries. Domestically, Canada has published a Directive on Automated Decision-Making. Globally, the European Commission’s High Level Expert Group on AI (the “HLEGA”) released its Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy Intelligence (the “Guidelines”) in 23 languages earlier this year. The Guidelines follow a first draft released in December 2018, which received more than 500 comments through an open consultation.

HLEGA Guidelines

The Guidelines’ starting point is a helpful definition of AI systems which underscores the importance of data for AI.

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Who Bears the Loss When a Cybercrimal Diverts Funds?

The Issue

What happens when two innocent parties to a settlement agreement are victims of cybercrime resulting in settlement funds being misdirected to a fraudster? The recent Ontario Small Claims Court decision St. Lawrence Test & Inspection Co. Ltd v. Lanark Leeds Distribution Ltd. And Mark Schokking, 2019 CanLII 69697 (ON SCSM) (“St. Lawrence“) considered this issue. As Kelford, DJ succinctly states:

The Plaintiff and Defendant were both innocent victims of a “cybercrime” which resulted in the loss of funds which were paid by the Defendants to settle the Plaintiff’s claim. Both parties are innocent. Unfortunately, one of them must bear the loss.

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Use of AI Algorithm Triggers Lawsuit and Countersuit

As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes less of a curiosity and more of an everyday tool, disputes are increasingly arising over its operation and, when things go wrong, the question inevitably arises: whose fault is this and who’s liable? One high-profile example is the ongoing dispute between Hong Kong businessman Samathur Li Kin-kan and London-based Tyndaris Investments, in which Tyndaris is suing its client for $3 million in allegedly unpaid fees. In a countersuit, Mr. Li is claiming $23 million in damages allegedly resulting from Tyndaris’ use of algorithmic trading in managing his portfolio.

Tyndaris Case

The dispute centers around whether Tyndaris misled its client as to the AI’s capabilities, which means that the AI’s performance itself will be adjudicated.

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The Limits of Data Localization Laws: Trade, Investment, and Data

On the 8th and 9th of June, 2019, the G20 Ministerial Meeting on Trade and Digital Economy took place in Tskuba, Japan. In a Ministerial Statement released after the meeting, the Ministers reaffirmed their commitments to transborder data flows noting that it generates higher productivity, greater innovation, and improved sustainable development, while acknowledging certain challenges related to “privacy, data protection, intellectual property rights, and security”.

Indeed, with the increasing importance of data in everything from cloud computing, the internet of things and big data analytics, the free flow of data is essential to unlocking the full potential of global e-commerce and modern business in data driven economy.

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