World Wide Web – When Do You Cross the line?
In this world of GOOGLE, FACEBOOK, and LINKEDIN, there is also a great deal of information on the web regarding individuals. In most cases, it is completely proper to access this information. For example, I had to examine a witness under oath a few months ago and availed myself of information that was on his FACEBOOK page to assist me. Recently the Ontario Court of Appeal was asked to consider where the line should be drawn with respect to intrusions into one’s privacy in the case of Jones v. Tsige. Winnie Tsige was the common law partner of the former husband of Sandra Jones. Ms Tsige was also a bank employee. Ms. Tsige used her position at the bank to repeatedly access online records that are not accessible to members of the public and inspect Sandra Jones private banking records. Presumably, this information was being passed along to Mr. Jones for use in a dispute with Mrs. Jones. The Court found this intrusion to have crossed a line. This is an unusual situation of an abuse of bank databases by a bank employee and may not have had much application to the rest of us, were it not for the fact that the Ontario Court of Appeal had to create a new cause of action of intrusion of privacy to give Sandra Jones a remedy. That remedy is now a precedent. The boundaries of the remedy will be set by future cases. It will likely be relied upon by celebrities against overly aggressive paparazzi. Should you be so unfortunate as to experience some intrusion into your privacy that is excessive, unwarranted and deserving of sanction, you should speak to your lawyer.