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The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) ruled the city can implement a bylaw passed nearly two years ago restricting short-term rentals in the city. The regulations require hosts to pay a $50 licensing fee and for companies to pay $5,000, plus another $1 per night for each booking. The bylaw also caps rentals at 180 nights per year for each home; hosts also must pay a four per cent tax on rentals shorter than 28 consecutive days. “One fact is indisputable: each dedicated short-term rental unit displaces one permanent household,” wrote adjudicator Scott Tousaw in his decision. (Toronto Star)

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Talking point: The bylaw was put on hold nearly two years ago when a group of Toronto landlords appealed the decision, arguing it restricts their property rights. Airbnb has been paying at least one of the landlords’ legal fees. Toronto’s bylaw is among the strictest in Canada for short-term rentals, going well beyond Vancouver’s $49 annual licensing fee that applies only to hosts, not to the platforms themselves. In 2018, Oakville, Ont. implemented a bylaw similar to Toronto’s, requiring rental companies to buy a $44,500 license to operate in the city. “We continue to share our hosts’ concerns that these rules unfairly punish some responsible short-term rental hosts who are contributing to the local economy,” said Alex Dagg, head of public policy for Airbnb Canada, in a statement to The Logic. Either the city or the landlords can challenge the LPAT’s decision.

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They’re taking aim at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) planned expansion of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The new regulations could expand the definition of children’s content from “child-directed” to that which attracts a large number of child viewers, which the petitioners say is too broad. The petitioners are also objecting to a settlement that could also prohibits YouTube from running personalized ads, which rely on tracking web browsing activity and other data, on children’s content. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Children’s videos are one of YouTube’s most popular content streams. Despite that, YouTube has maintained that its main site is not for viewers under 13, launching a separate app for kids in 2015. That app has failed to catch on—its viewership is about one per cent that of the main site.  The content creators argue that most parents do not oppose personalized ads on their videos, and that prohibiting them would significantly hamper their ability to make money. In turn, their petition says, the rules will reduce the overall quality of children’s content on the video service. COPPA already prohibits sites from tracking personal data for children under 13 without parental consent. In September, the FTC fined YouTube’s parent company Google US$170 million for violating those rules. As part of the settlement, YouTube agreed not to run personalized ads on children’s content, starting in January. Meanwhile, the FTC is soliciting public comments for a broad review of COPPA, which includes the strengthened provisions described in the petition.

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Calex Legal would file the lawsuit, which has not been certified by the Quebec Superior Court, on behalf of two Quebec plaintiffs who say their children are dependent on the game. The plaintiffs allege that Epic Games worked with psychologists to make the game highly addictive, then marketed it to youth. (La Presse)

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Talking point: If the request for certification goes forward, this would be the first class-action lawsuit in Canada against a video game company on the basis of addiction. It’s based on a 2015 Quebec Superior Court ruling, which fined tobacco companies $15 billion for failing to warn customers about the dangers of smoking. In 2018, the World Health Organization classified video game addiction as a disease—a fact Calex noted in its filing—but it’s unclear whether that will be enough to substantiate the plaintiffs’ claims. One potential roadblock is a class-action waiver included in the game’s terms of service, but a Calex attorney said that provision doesn’t apply in Quebec, where the Consumer Protection Act requires companies to disclose risks associated with their products. One similar, smaller lawsuit ended in the plaintiff’s favour in the past—in 2010, a man successfully sued South Korean software firm NCSoft for making a game too addictive.

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Michael McEvoy found that B.C.’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) applies to every organization in the province, whether or not they are federally registered. The federal NDP, which was challenged for its collection of data in this case, could appeal the ruling and seek a stay pending the outcome. It has not yet indicated whether it will. (The Logic)

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Talking point: B.C. is the only jurisdiction in Canada where political parties are subject to privacy laws—but until this ruling, it wasn’t clear whether the legislation applied to federally registered parties, or just provincial ones. Political parties are increasingly relying on personal data collection to target voters, according to recent investigations in the U.K., the U.S. and New Zealand. If this decision either goes unchallenged or is upheld, federally registered parties operating in B.C. will have to get individuals’ consent before collecting their personal data (except in certain limited conditions, like when the information is publicly available), disclose how the information is being used and come up with readily available data collection policies, among other requirements. This decision comes on the heels of growing calls to expand federal privacy legislation across the country. In September 2018, federal, provincial and territorial privacy commissioners issued a joint call to bring political parties under privacy law; the House Ethics Committee recommended similar change in two reports released in June and December that year. And, federal privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien has repeatedly called for his office to have the power to compel political parties to disclose data collection practices and issue fines to those who don’t comply.

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Amazon said it does not plan on installing more Tesla products. Tesla called the fire an “isolated event” and said 11 other Amazon sites with SolarCity panels are operating normally. The statement comes on the heels of Walmart’s Tuesday lawsuit against Tesla, which alleges that SolarCity panels caused fires in at least seven retail stores, causing substantial damage to merchandise. On Thursday, Walmart and Tesla released a joint statement saying they are in talks to resolve their issues. (Bloomberg, Gizmodo)

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Talking point: This is the latest publicity blow to SolarCity, which has been a controversial Tesla acquisition from the start. When Tesla CEO Elon Musk acquired it in 2016, SolarCity was struggling with mounting debt, as well as problems on the consumer side, including accusations of shoddy installation. SolarCity customers have filed at least 671 complaints against the company with the Better Business Bureau, and 118 complaints with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. SolarCity used to sell and install solar panels it imported from China, but when demand started to outpace supply, the company started manufacturing solar panels in 2014, under Musk’s leadership. With the retail giants’ accusations, it seems the company’s alleged quality control issues may have extended into its manufacturing business. SolarCity was founded by Musk’s first cousin, and Musk was chairman of its board. Tesla shareholders launched a class-action lawsuit against Musk over the acquisition in 2018, arguing that Musk’s role as a controlling stockholder in SolarCity gave him undue influence in the deal. That lawsuit is ongoing.

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Provincial laws need to be updated to take into account how sensors, artificial intelligence and big data analytics interact with personal information, according to Brian Beamish’s annual report. Beamish is also calling for political parties to be subject to additional privacy requirements when it comes to handling data and for artificial intelligence to be widely adopted in the health sector to reduce privacy violations. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Beamish’s recommendations echo those made by his counterparts at the federal level and in British Columbia for widespread changes to privacy laws in light of the growing power and ubiquity of technology. The growing consensus among government watchdogs hasn’t translated to very many changes in law. That’s likely to change in the next few years. The federal government, for example, is currently considering regulatory changes stemming out of its National Digital and Data Consultations, and has also struck a panel to look at the Telecommunications and Radiocommunication acts. Beamish’s recommendations will give further weight to privacy advocates who have been sounding similar warnings. In particular, his report echoes many of the concerns that experts and activists have raised about Sidewalk Labs’ proposed smart-city development in Toronto, the roughly 1,500-page plan for which was released earlier this week.

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A New York Supreme Court judge rejected a motion by IAC and its subsidiary Match Group, which owns the dating app Tinder, to dismiss a case brought forward by Tinder co-founder Sean Rad, alleging that the IAC and Match purposefully undervalued Tinder’s growth potential to avoid paying billions of dollars in stock options to the company’s original team. Rad is suing for US$2 billion. A date for the next hearing has not been set. (The Verge)

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Talking point: This is the biggest lawsuit within the larger controversy, which centres on allegations that insiders intentionally undervalued Tinder at multiple stages of its development, leading early investors to miss out its eventual earnings—it’s parent company Match has a market cap of more than US$20 billion. In May, The Logic broke the news that Social Capital CEO Chamath Palihapitiya and prominent Toronto venture capitalists Amar Varma and Sundeep “Sunny” Madra were ordered to pay US$15.69 million by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice for undervaluing Xtreme Labs—which held a 13 per cent interest in Hatch Labs, the developer of Tinder—when they sold it in 2012. The judge in that case found that Palihapitiya, Varma and Madra had engaged in “conspiracy” and “unlawful conduct.” The latter two intend to appeal.

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The Court of Appeal for Ontario dismissed an appeal by Toronto-based venture capital firm Extreme Venture Partners (EVP), which was seeking compensation for the management buyout of Xtreme Labs. EVP alleged the valuation for the company, which held a stake in Tinder, was based on a “significantly undervalued” price, resulting in it taking a loss on the deal. Social Capital CEO Chamath Palihapitiya and prominent Toronto venture capitalists Amar Varma and Sundeep “Sunny” Madra had won summary judgment from the Superior Court of Justice in October 2018 dismissing the case. The court of appeal declined EVP’s attempt to appeal that ruling, ordering it to pay $10,000 for the opposing side’s costs. Legal counsel for EVP did not immediately respond to a request for comment; counsel for Madra and Varma declined to comment. (The Logic)

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Talking point: These same litigants are part of a larger lawsuit around the 2012 sale of Xtreme Labs. Earlier in May, The Logic broke the news that Palihapitiya, Varma and Madra were ordered to pay US$15.69 million by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in that case, which centres on the sales of Xtreme Labs; this case focused on the valuation leading up to that sale. The court of appeal’s decision centred on whether Palihapitiya, Varma and Madra had any “duty of care” to EVP when the valuation for Xtreme Labs was put together. In other words: the judges didn’t have to rule on whether or not Xtreme Labs was undervalued because Palihapitiya, Varma and Madra had no legal obligation to value it properly. The US$15.69-million ruling focused on more fundamental questions. The judge in that case found that Palihapitiya, Varma and Madra had engaged in “conspiracy” and “unlawful conduct.” The latter two intend to appeal.

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The workers are seeking severance or termination pay from their former employer. The employees allege that BlackBerry misled them when they accepted a transfer to Ford Motor Company of Canada, as part of a strategic partnership through the former’s QNX automotive software platform. BlackBerry allegedly told workers that refusing Ford’s offer wouldn’t guarantee them continued employment with BlackBerry; Ford, meanwhile, allegedly claimed that if they accepted the Ford offer, they would not be entitled to retain seniority or other such benefits they’d acquired at BlackBerry. The original notice of action, filed in 2017, sought both punitive damages and severance benefits for the terminated employees. (BNN Bloomberg, Globe and Mail)

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Talking point: It’ll be the trial judge’s decision whether BlackBerry’s transfer was designed to end the plaintiffs’ employment without having to pay them severance. That will be difficult to prove, according to Justice Michel Charbonneau, who allowed the suit to proceed, though he said the theory is “not without merit.” Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP, the law firm representing the plaintiffs, said it has advised others this week that they can still join the suit; the firm claimed in 2017 that over 100 workers in Ottawa, and at least 200 elsewhere in Canada, were affected.