Technology-Facilitated Mind Hacking: Protection of Inner Freedoms in Canadian Law

Policy Brief No. 5

January 29, 2024

Under international human rights law, government has a duty to protect individuals from corporate interferences with rights. The rights to freedom of thought, belief and opinion have gained traction internationally as human rights that are infringed by technology-facilitated “mind hacking.”

In this policy brief, Emily Laidlaw explores the complicated status of the rights to freedom of thought, belief and opinion in Canadian law, writing that the legal uncertainty in this area creates a hurdle to making any use of them in practice. The primary interferences with these rights are from private actors, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms only directly applies to governmental action. Arguably, freedom of thought, belief and opinion are not only “forgotten freedoms” but empty ones in Canada.

Laidlaw contributes a step-by-step analysis of the legal chokepoints that must be untangled to breathe life into these rights and recommends all levels of government implement these freedoms through renewed focus on law and policy reform in the areas of privacy, artificial intelligence and online safety.

About the Author

Emily Laidlaw is a CIGI senior fellow, a Canada Research Chair in Cybersecurity Law and associate professor at the University of Calgary.