I spy with my little IP | Marcel Strigberger

By Marcel Strigberger

Law360 Canada (January 20, 2023, 2:25 PM EST) --
Marcel Strigberger
Marcel Strigberger
Three myths just came to my mind: 1) If you want rain, just rush to get your car washed; 2) Lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place; and 3) We all enjoy the right to privacy. Given that I don’t like rain and that lightning scares me, this is a good a time as any to talk about the sacred cow of privacy. In two words, ha ha! 

We all of course know all about Andrei Bykovets (R. v. Bykovets [2022] S.C.C.A. No. 166).

Andrei B was convicted in Alberta for fraudulently using credit card data to buy gift cards online and then using the cards to make purchases. He was caught by virtue of the police being able to obtain his IP (internet protocol) address from Moneris, the company which managed the stores’ online sales. The Supreme Court of Canada is now to decide whether the police should require court approval in order to get IP addresses from rogues, knaves and criminals. You may by now gather by my tone what my views are on this issue. The fact that some low life crook recently compromised my Visa card to the tune of $1,800 in casino charges has nothing to do with my view. After all I am a lawyer. Always objective. Open-minded.

The Alberta Court of Appeal held that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in an IP address. Bravo! A cluster of civil rights and liberties groups for some strange reason have their knickers in a knot crying Charter breach.

And what is an IP address? It is a series of numbers and periods that looks like

This information apparently identifies devices, locations and other information which helps police track down these techie gangsters. In all likelihood the above random numbers probably constitute the IP address of some millennial in Belleville with a name like Kyle who just ordered a set of earbuds from Amazon. Sorry, Kyle.

I don’t know how much Borovets’s IP address helped the police catch up to him, but I hear that he slipped up along the way by using one of those gift cards to send flowers to Siri.

Actually, I don’t see what the fuss is about. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. How about Sort of looks like Kyle’s.

I ask do we really have privacy anymore? Someone gave me a “smart speaker,” which I was naïve enough to activate. I uttered the words, “Alexa, play some Mozart.” The next time I went online my screen was flooded with ads for the best cafés in Salzburg for apple strudel. Coincidence? I think not. Alexa was like Delilah, betraying Samson’s trust by blabbing to the Philistines about the secret power of this strong man’s long hair. Shame on her. There is no such thing as a free Mozart.

I unplugged Alexa. Maybe I should also change my IP address now. Or get an unlisted IP address. Or give Alexa Kyle’s.

Where do we have privacy these days? There are surveillance cameras everywhere, Facebook, Google and these other corporate behemoths know everything about us and even banks, utility companies etc., can listen in on your griping and cursing when you’re on hold. (That may not be the best time to use the washroom).

Oh yes, all these outfits have a privacy policy. Doesn’t that make you feel secure!

To review their privacy policy just go online to www.thewonderfulbank.com/privacy. They generally read something like, “To serve you better, we may share your personal information with our partners and associates and any other pertinent parties including but not limited to, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.”

 I believe that the police should not have their hands fettered in fighting the tsunami of online crime. As the say in French, “I have nothing to hide.” Or for short, “moi?”

I do wonder how the whack of legal fees for this trip by the civil liberties groups to the Supreme Court is being funded. I trust the lawyers aren’t getting paid by Bykovets with gift cards.

Marcel Strigberger retired from his Greater Toronto Area litigation practice and continues the more serious business of humorous author and speaker. His book Boomers, Zoomers, and Other Oomers: A Boomer-biased Irreverent Perspective on Aging is now available in paper and e-book versions where books are sold. Visit www.marcelshumour.com. Follow him @MarcelsHumour.

The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s firm, its clients, The Lawyer’s Daily, LexisNexis Canada, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.

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