; Court File No
Documents
Resources
Learning Center
Upload
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out
Your Federal Quarterly Tax Payments are due April 15th Get Help Now >>

Court File No

VIEWS: 14 PAGES: 8

  • pg 1
									                                                                 Court File No. T- 2228 - 05



                                    FEDERAL COURT



BETWEEN:


                                   PHILIPPA LAWSON
                                                                               Applicant
and

                        ACCUSEARCH INC., dba ABIKA.COM
                                                                             Respondent



                         AFFIDAVIT OF PHILIPPA LAWSON

I, PHILIPPA LAWSON, of the City of Ottawa, in the Province of Ontario,
SWEAR THAT:

      1. I am a lawyer and Executive Director of the Canadian Internet Policy and Public
         Interest Clinic (“CIPPIC”). I am a Canadian citizen; I reside and work in Canada.
         Except as otherwise indicated, I have personal knowledge of the matters to which
         I depose in this Affidavit. Where I do not have personal knowledge, I have
         indicated the source of my information, and I believe such information to be true.

      2. CIPPIC was established at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law in the fall of
         2003. CIPPIC’s mandate is to fill voids in public policy debates on technology
         law issues, to ensure balance in policy and law-making processes, and to provide
         legal assistance to under-represented organizations and individuals on matters
         involving the intersection of law and technology.


      3. CIPPIC regularly advocates on behalf of the public in matters of privacy
         protection. In this regard, CIPPIC assists clients in the preparation of privacy
   complaints to the Privacy Commissioner as well as launching its own privacy
   complaints.

4. In the winter of 2004, I hired a research assistant, Dina Mashayekhi, to research
   the practices of online investigative businesses. Ms. Mashayekhi located a
   company doing business on the Internet under the name Abika.com, at a website
   located at http://www.abika.com. Abika.com states on its website that it is a
   division of AccuSearch Inc. (“AccuSearch”). The website lists AccuSearch as a
   Wyoming corporation with its principal place of business at 6812 Lupine Tr.,
   Cheyenne, Wyoming, U.S.A. Attached hereto as Exhibit “A” is a true copy of a
   page of a printout of Abika.com’s “Contact Us” page from its website showing
   Abika.com’s corporate and contact information.


5. In January 2006, I conducted an online search on the Wyoming Secretary of State,
   Corporation Division’s website to get corporate details about AccuSearch. The
   Wyoming Secretary of State, Corporation Division’s website shows AccuSearch
   as an incorporated company and lists the President as Jay Puler. Attached hereto
   as Exhibit “B” is a true copy of a printout of the corporate records relating to
   AccuSearch Inc. as listed on the Wyoming Secretary of State website in January
   2006.

6. I also conducted an online search to find details about Abika.com’s domain name
   and registration details. I discovered that AccuSearch registered the domain name
   Abika.com with a web-hosting company called Network Solutions. According to
   Network Solutions’ “Whois” database of domain name registrants, Abika.com’s
   server is located in Newark, Deleware, U.S.A. Attached hereto as Exhibit “C” is a
   true copy of a printout of a page from Network Solutions’ website showing
   domain name and web-hosting details pertaining to Abika.com as they appeared
   in January 2006.




                                                                                       2
7. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPCC) informed me in
   November 2005 that Abika.com also operated an Abika.ca website. I attempted to
   access the Abika.ca website in January 2006 and discovered it was no longer
   operational. I conducted a Google search on Abika.ca and was ultimately able to
   access Abika.ca’s website contents through Google’s cache. The Abika.ca website
   identifies the company associated with the website as “AccuSearch Inc., doing
   business as Abika.com”. AccuSearch Inc.’s address is listed as Abika.com, 6812
   Lupine Tr., Cheyenne, Wyoming, U.S.A, the same address that appears on the
   Abika.com website. The Abika.ca website appears to me to offer the same
   services advertised on the Abika.com website. Attached as Exhibit “D” is a true
   copy of a printout of the Google cache of the Abika.ca “Help” page, showing
   company information and contact details as I found them in January 2006.


8. In January 2006, I conducted an online search to find registration and domain
   name details about Abika.ca. I discovered that J. Patel registered the domain name
   Abika.ca with a web-hosting company called Tucows Inc. (“Tucows”). Tucows
   states on its website that its head office is located at 96 Mowat Avenue, Toronto,
   Ontario. Details about Abika.ca listed on Tucows’ website show that Abika.ca
   was created on October 18, 2004. The postal address that Tucows lists for
   Abika.ca is the address for AccuSearch Inc. at 6812 Lupine Trail, Cheyenne,
   Wyoming, U.S.A. The server details are the same as those listed for Abika.com in
   Exhibit “C”. Attached hereto as Exhibit “E” is a true copy of a printout of a page
   from Tucows’ website showing domain name and web-hosting details relating to
   Abika.ca as it appeared in January 2006.


9. I have reviewed the Abika.com website on several occasions since January 2004.
   I have not noticed any significant changes in the website over this period of time.
   The particular aspects of the website that I describe below applied in July 2004,
   and still apply in January 2006. On its website, Abika.com offers a variety of
   search services on individuals including background checks, psychological
   profiles, email traces, unlisted and cell phone number searches, IP tracking and



                                                                                        3
   license plate searches. Attached hereto as Exhibit “F” is a true copy of a printout
   of Abika.com’s home page, printed in January 2006, showing the variety of
   search services Abika.com offers.


10. The Abika.com website contains FAQs that describe Abika.com’s operations.
   According to these FAQs, Abika.com maintains a roster of researchers that it
   employs to conduct searches on its behalf. Abika.com takes its customers’ search
   requests and assigns them to various researchers. The researchers access a variety
   of sources, internet-based and non-internet based, to complete the searches. The
   researchers submit the search results to Abika.com who then sells the information
   to the customer. Researchers do not deal with Abika.com’s customers directly.
   Abika.com claims not to know how the researchers conduct their research.
   Attached hereto as Exhibit “G” is a true copy of a printout of Abika.com’s
   “Frequently Asked Questions” (“FAQs”), printed in January 2006.


11. Abika.com advertises on its website that it offers various search services about
   Canadians. For example, Abika.com offers a “Canada Background Check” on
   Canadians. Abika.com states on its website that with this feature, customers can
   buy reports about a Canadian that include any aliases used by the person, the
   person’s addresses and phone numbers, their criminal records and a psychological
   profile of the individual. Attached hereto as Exhibit “H” is a true copy of a
   printout from Abika.com’s website showing the Canada Background Check
   service option as it appeared in January 2006.


12. On its website, Abika.com claims to provide the “Canada Background Check” on
   a “confidential basis”, i.e., without the consent of the individual who is the subject
   of the search. Attached hereto as Exhibit “I” is a true copy of a printout from
   Abika.com’s “Free Background Checks” website page, printed in January 2006.
   This page describes how Abika.com obtains the consent of the individual prior to
   conducting “free searches” while all “paid searches” are conducted on a
   confidential basis.



                                                                                         4
13. On January 19, 2004, I tested whether Abika.com would sell information about a
   Canadian to a Canadian in Canada. I did so by ordering a “Canada Background
   Check” using myself as a subject. I was in Canada when I made my request, using
   my Canadian work email address: plawson@uottawa.ca. The physical location of
   the mail server for uottawa.ca is in Canada. Attached hereto as Exhibit “J” is a
   true copy of an email from Abika.com’s billing department. The email confirms
   Abika.com’s receipt of my order and requests clarification regarding my address.


14. I paid $119 US for my Canada Background Check, using my VISA. I submitted
   my payment using the services of PayPal, a business that provides secure payment
   processing for online transactions by submitting payments for customers without
   revealing any financial information, such as a credit card number, to the
   merchant. Because my payment was made through PayPal, Abika.com received
   both my PayPal email address and my work email address with my request for a
   Background Check. Attached hereto as Exhibit “K” is a true copy of a portion of
   my VISA statement, showing a charge for $160.16 CDN for this transaction.


15. Attached hereto as Exhibit “L” is a true copy of an email from Abika.com
   confirming my order and payment for a Canada Background Check and
   requesting further details regarding my order. I responded by providing my full
   name, Canadian address, Canadian telephone number, and date of birth for
   Abika.com to use to conduct their search. I clarified the matter of the conflicting
   email addresses by instructing Abika.com to send my search results to my work
   address: plawson@uottawa.ca.


16. On February 4, 2004, Abika.com contacted me by email to confirm that my
   Background Check was nearly completed and to confirm the information I would
   receive in my Canada Background check. Attached hereto as Exhibit “M” is a true
   copy of the confirmation email I received from Abika.com.




                                                                                         5
17. On February 6, 2004,Abika.com sent me their search results in an email. The
   report was sent to my work email address at plawson@uottawa.ca. The report
   purported to contain the results of a criminal records search and a “psychological
   profile” about me. Attached hereto as Exhibit “N” is a true copy of the first page
   of the email containing the search results I received from Abika.com, with the
   “psychological profile” removed.

18. I filed a complaint against Abika.com with the Office of the Privacy
   Commissioner of Canada (“OPCC”) on June 9, 2004, pursuant to section 11 of
   the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”).
   Ms. Mashayekhi and I both signed the complaint. Attached hereto as Exhibit “O”
   is a true copy of our complaint letter (without attachments).


19. In a letter dated November 30, 2004, the OPCC informed me that they could not
   investigate the practices of Abika.com because Abika.com “does not have a
   physical presence in Canada” and because PIPEDA “does not extend to
   investigating organizations located only in the United States”. Attached hereto as
   Exhibit “P” is a true copy of the OPCC’s November 30th reply to my complaint.


20. The OPCC’s refusal to investigate Abika.com captured some media attention.
   Attached hereto as Exhibit “Q” are true copies of articles I printed off the Internet
   in December, 2004 on this point.

21. On December 14, 2004, I wrote to the Commissioner expressing my disagreement
   with the November 30th letter. I encouraged her to reconsider her staff’s
   determination that they could not investigate companies located wholly in the
   USA. Attached hereto as Exhibit “R” is a true copy of my letter urging the
   Commissioner to investigate my complaint (with attachments).


22. On December 20, 2004, on the request of the OPCC, I re-filed my complaint
   against Abika.com (with minor revisions). Ms. Mashayekhi again signed the
   complaint. Attached hereto as Exhibit “S” is a true copy of my December 20,


                                                                                        6
   2004 complaint (with attachments). It is the Commissioner’s response to this
   complaint that provides the basis for the present Application.


23. On January 14, 2005, the OPCC wrote me a letter acknowledging receipt of my
   December 20, 2004 complaint and informing me that an investigation would
   ensue. Attached hereto as Exhibit “T” is a true copy of the letter.

24. On March 11, 2005 I received a telephone call from Kasia Krzymien, Senior
   Privacy Investigator at the OPCC, about the status of my Abika.com complaint.
   Ms. Krzymien informed me that no one in her office was willing to have a search
   done about them to test Abika.com’s search services. Ms. Krzymien told me that
   should CIPPIC find some volunteer search subjects, her office would be willing to
   pay for any searches undertaken by them in order to test Abika.com’s compliance
   with PIPEDA. I responded by expressing my view that it should be the OPCC, not
   CIPPIC, who conducts the investigation.

25. On March 12, 2005, I sent a letter by fax to Ms. Krzymien as a follow up to our
   March 11, 2005, phone conversation. In the letter I volunteered myself as a
   subject for the OPCC to use to order Abika.com searches to help with their
   investigation. I also offered to find other volunteers for searches and suggested
   other ways in which the OPCC could investigate Abika.com, including: by
   looking at the information available on the website itself, by ordering searches
   from Abika.com using fictional persons, by looking into Canadian sources that
   would likely be used to provide Canadian search results (such as Canadian cell
   phone companies), and by contacting a former employee of Abika.com whom I
   had been corresponding with. Attached hereto as Exhibit “U” is a true copy of my
   letter.

26. I did not receive any further requests from the OPCC to find volunteer search
   subjects or otherwise to assist with the investigation.




                                                                                       7
   27. In a letter dated November 18, 2005, the OPCC informed me that “we cannot
       proceed with your complaint as we lack jurisdiction to compel U.S. organizations
       to produce the evidence necessary for us to conduct the investigation”. Attached
       hereto as Exhibit “V” is a true copy of the OPCC’s November 18th letter.


   28. The practices of Abika.com have garnered international media attention. Attached
       hereto as Exhibit “W” are some news articles on this point that I printed in
       January 2006.


SWORN BEFORE ME at the
City of Ottawa, in the Province
of Ontario, Canada, on                                                ________________
18 January 2006                                                       Philippa Lawson

_____________________________
Commissioner for taking affidavits




                                                                                          8

								
To top