Bench Press 38-3: Supreme Court Finds PIPA Invalid - LawNow Magazine

Bench Press 38-3: Supreme Court Finds PIPA Invalid

Bench PressIn a startling decision, the Supreme Court of Canada has found Alberta’s Personal Information Privacy Act to be unconstitutional and therefore invalid. The case involved persons who were photographed crossing a picket line. A nearby sign warned that the striking union might post the pictures on a website. Several of the photographed individuals protested to the Alberta Privacy Commissioner. The Alberta Court of Appeal gave the union a constitutional exemption from the application of the Act, citing freedom of expression. However, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the union’s right to freedom of expression must be balanced by an individual’s right to privacy and to control their personal information. It stated “This infringement of the right to freedom of expression is disproportionate to the government’s objective of providing individuals with control over personal information that they expose by crossing a picket line. It is therefore not justified under s. 1 of the Charter.”  In another unusual move, the Government of Alberta and the Privacy Commissioner asked the Court to declare the entire Act invalid, not just the sections under consideration, because they argued, the Act was comprehensive and integrated. This was so the Alberta Legislature could consider the Act as a whole when deciding how best to amend it. The Court suspended the declaration of invalidity for 12 months so that the Legislature has time to amend the Act.

Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner) v. United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401, 2013 SCC 62 (CanLII)



Teresa Mitchell
Teresa Mitchell
Teresa Mitchell is the former Editor and Legal Writer for LawNow at the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta.

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