The Access to Information Act allows citizens to access information in federal government records, in line with the principle that government information should be available to the public, and thus increasing government transparency. You can find more information on filing an Access to Information Request.
Digital issues resources in Canada
The federal government recently amended the Canadian Copyright Act, resulting in both positive and negative developments for free expression online. On the positive end, free and fair use provisions were added and exceptions made for educational institutions using content found on the Internet. On the negative, “digital locks” were added to some materials, severely hindering an individuals control over content.
In the realm of digital privacy and consummate Canadian legislation, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) makes provisions for how companies can use, share, and store personal information collected online. Both Acts can be reviewed below.
Digital rights organizations
As of Spring 2013, hate speech is no longer covered by the Canadian Human Rights Act, a change that was a victory for free expression in Canada. The hate speech provision, or Section 13, was seen by many as a tool for censorship of controversial or dissident views. Allegations of hate speech are now subject to criminal charges under the Criminal Code of Canada.
Provincial Information and Privacy Commissioners
The respective websites of the provincial Information and Privacy Commissioners have lots of great tools for learning about your privacy rights, how to protect your privacy online, discussion papers, and plenty of other educational resources. Below are listed the offices, according to province.
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Acts: This legislation is governed by the principle that the records of public institutions should be made available and accessible to the public, while also working to guarantee the privacy of individuals.
Both Ontario and Quebec have enacted legislation to block strategic lawsuits against public participation, i.e. cases in which lawsuits are used by an individual or organization to muzzle groups which are speaking out against their activities in an issue of public interest. While the rest of Canada’s provinces have yet to follow suit on this important issue, you can review existing Anti-SLAPP legislation below.
Each province’s respective legislation pertaining to defamation, libel and slander is also listed below:
The Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA) is meant to protect employees of the Canadian federal government who alert the public to government wrongdoing. There is also a parliamentary agent, the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner that aims to protect these whistleblowers from reprisal by employers. You can read a comprehensive explanation of the Act, and a breakdown of the Act’s shortcomings.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms establishes civil rights in a democratic society and Section 8 protects against “unreasonable search and seizure. Despite this, journalists have at times been searched, detained, and had their recording equipment seized by police forces, particularly in protest situations. The best defense against unreasonable search and seizure is to know your rights. Read a breakdown of the Charter.
The Public Works Protection Act (PWPA) is a controversial World War 2-era law that endowed Toronto police officers with unprecedented power during the G20 Protest. It also resulted in excessive use of force by the police, leading to serious injuries to protesters. Despite recommendations to scrap the law, it remains in force as legislation to reverse it was tabled in Fall 2012.