Private Law & Public Space : The Canadian Privacy Torts in an Era of Personal Remote-Surveillance Technology

Title: Private Law & Public Space : The Canadian Privacy Torts in an Era of Personal Remote-Surveillance Technology
Authors: Thomasen, Kristen
Date: 2022-06-29
Abstract: As increasingly sophisticated personal-use technologies like drones and home surveillance systems become more common, so too will interpersonal privacy conflicts. Given the nature of these new personal-use technologies, privacy conflicts will increasingly occur in public spaces. Tort law is one area of the Canadian legal system that can address interpersonal conflict and rights-infringements between people with no other legal relationship. However, building on a historical association between privacy and private property, the common and statutory law privacy torts in Canada fail to respond to such conflicts, I argue inappropriately. Privacy is an important dimension of public space, and the social interactions and relationships that arise in public spaces. Failing to recognize public space privacy in tort law leads to an overly narrow understanding of privacy, and can be considered contrary to binding precedent that says that the common law should evolve in line with (or at a minimum, not contrary to) Charter values. The Charter values of privacy, substantive equality, and expressive freedom support various reforms to the judicial understanding of the privacy torts in Canada. Privacy, also understood as "private affairs" or "private facts" in tort, should not be predicated on property, and can sometimes take on greater value in public spaces. Privacy interests should be assessed through a normative lens, with a view to the long-term implications of a precedent for both privacy and substantive equality. Courts should assess privacy through a subjective-objective lens that allows for consideration of the lived experiences and expertise of the parties, their relative power, and their relationships. Adopting these principles into the statutory and common law torts would permit tort law to serve as a legal mechanism for addressing interpersonal, technology-mediated privacy conflicts arising in public spaces. This will be a socially valuable development as such conflicts become increasingly common and potentially litigated.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -