Ottawa, September 30 2002

Council approves guidelines for computer monitoring

OTTAWA, September 30, 2002 – The Canadian Judicial Council is advising judges across Canada on how to protect their computer networks against security threats without compromising their privacy and judicial independence.

At its annual meeting in Calgary on September 27, the leaders of Canada’s superior courts approved computer monitoring guidelines developed by the Council’s Judges Technology Advisory Committee.

The guidelines acknowledge that effective protection of computer networks against security threats requires certain monitoring activities. However, monitoring should have a well-defined and justifiable purpose “that does not encroach on deliberative secrecy, confidentiality, privacy rights or judicial independence”, the guidelines state.

The advice grows out of a Council seminar last March led by the Committee, and the work of Professor Michael Geist of the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa. Professor Geist’s paper, entitled Computer and E-Mail Workplace Surveillance in Canada: The Shift from Reasonable Expectation of Privacy to Reasonable Surveillance, will be posted shortly on the Council’s Web site.

The Calgary meeting also approved the Canadian Guide to the Uniform Preparation of Judgments(also available on the Council web site) which is a revised version of its 1996 Standards for the Preparation, Distribution and Citation of Canadian Judgments in Electronic Form.

The new document, like the standards that preceded it, is designed to disseminate best practices in preparation of electronic versions of judgments, and to simplify the publication and retrieval of case law. The voluntary standards apply to all judgments prepared on computers and are generally consistent with international standards used by governments, commercial publishers and large organizations. The Standards have been adopted widely in Canada and have gained worldwide attention and use.

Jeannie Thomas
Executive Director   
(613) 998-5182
Martin Felsky 
Commonwealth Legal
(416) 703-3755, ext. 226
Daniel Poulin
Université de Montréal
(514) 343-2139
Jennifer Jordan 
Registrar, B.C. Court of Appeal
(604) 660-3237

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