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Ontario Court gives plaintiffs a novel means of enforcing their privacy rights

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The advent of the Internet and social media, has introduced a myriad of new problems for privacy law, which has become an increasingly inadequate means of protecting people's privacy rights. Fortunately, in the recent case of Doe 464533 v N.D. the court recognized this issue and decided to better align current privacy law with the modern state of technology, and as such give plaintiffs a novel means of punishing the breach of their privacy rights.

In this case, a young woman decided to share a sexually explicit video of herself with her ex-boyfriend, who later posted the video on a pornographic website, despite assurances to the contrary. Justice Stinson decided to introduce a new tort of "public disclosure of private facts", that can be used to prosecute individuals who without consent publicize such content. In order to succeed, plaintiffs will have to prove that "the matter publicized or the act of publication" is "highly offensive to a reasonable person" and is not "of legitimate concern to the public".

This novel tort could become particularly notable in the employment context, as it appears possible that employers and employees could be held liable for disclosure of embarrassing private facts, and employers may also be held vicariously liable for the actions of their employees. For employers this reinforces the need for minimizing risk of exposure by established strict privacy policies towards both the clients, and other employees, as well as the need for ensuring that employee's private data does not become publicly disclosed.

For private individuals, this novel tort importantly strengthens privacy protections, which are highly necessary in the world of instantaneous exchange of information, and where release of even small bits of personal information may have dramatic impact on one's personal and professional life.

If you believe that your rights to privacy have been violated, or are an employer seeking to better understand the steps that are expected of you to protect privacy data don't face your struggle alone. De Bousquet PC has the experience you need and we will provide you with personal service to obtain the best possible result in your case.

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