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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UK Privacy Regulator Publishes Report Critical of AdTech and Real Time Bidding

The rapid development of the online advertising industry and advances in advertising technology have resulted in automated and nearly instantaneous auctions of ad space on websites and other digital environments. This process, known as “Real Time Bidding” (“RTB”), is currently an area of concern for the United Kingdom Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”), which recently published an update report (“Update Report”) criticizing the online advertising industry’s handling of data and concluding that standard industry practices are non-compliant with European Union privacy laws.

How Real Time Bidding Works

Sophisticated RTB can be a complex series of processes and interactions, but at its most basic, it refers to a process by which online advertisers compete for an audience.

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Court Finds Language of Privacy Act Precludes Arbitration of Privacy Disputes

Overview

There have been a number of recent decisions in the arbitration space regarding when it is appropriate to stay litigation in favour of arbitration and where it is not. In particular, recent appellate case law (e.g., Wellman, and Heller) discusses and interprets the principle set out in Seidel v. TELUS Communications Inc., 2011 SCC 15 that arbitration clauses will generally be enforced “absent legislative language to the contrary.”

In particular, these cases address whether statutory language in consumer protection and employment legislation constitutes “legislative language to the contrary” that precludes parties from agreeing to arbitrate. However, there was no case law that considered this issue in the context of the various privacy statutes that exist across Canada – until now.

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