YouTube complaint against Student’s-Eye View dismissed
Student’s-Eye View received an anonymous privacy complaint about a YouTube video based on a U of O Senate meeting that took place in 2011.
The video was embedded in a September 2011 post “SFUO President Amalia Savva Granted Whispering Rights at Senate by Allan Rock” and showed student federation president Amalia Savva and U of O president Allan Rock interacting during a public meeting of university Senate.
Following Joseph Hickey’s submission that the video was on a matter of public interest, YouTube decided to dismiss the complaint.
The emails from YouTube advising of the complaint initiation and closure, and Mr. Hickey’s submission for dismissal of the complaint can be read below:
To: Joseph Hickey
Date: Sep. 14, 2015
Subject: Re: YouTube support
Dear Joseph Hickey,
This is to notify you that we have received a privacy complaint from an individual regarding your content:
Video URLs: http://youtube.com/watch?v=EimyHwNgYu0
The information reported as violating privacy is at 0_00, 0_20-1_08
We would like to give you an opportunity to review the content in question and remove any personal information that may be used to uniquely identify or contact the complainant.
You have 48 hours to take action on the complaint. If you remove the alleged violation from the site within the 48 hours, the complaint filed will then be closed. If the potential privacy violation remains on the site after 48 hours, the complaint will be reviewed by the YouTube Team and may be removed pursuant to our Privacy Guidelines (http://www.youtube.com/t/privacy_guidelines). For content to be considered for removal, an individual must be uniquely identifiable by image, voice, full name, Social Security number, bank account number or contact information (e.g., home address, email address). Examples that would not violate our privacy guidelines include gamer tags, avatar names, and address information in which the individual is not named. We also take public interest, newsworthiness, and consent into account when determining if content should be removed for a privacy violation.
If the alleged violation is located within the video itself, you may have to remove the video completely. If someone’s full name or other personal information is listed within the title, description, or tags of your video, you can edit this by going to My Videos and clicking the Edit button on the reported video. Making a video private is not an appropriate method of editing, as the status can be changed from private to public at any time. Because they can be turned off at any time, annotations are also not considered an acceptable solution.
We’re committed to protecting our users and hope you understand the importance of respecting others’ privacy. When uploading videos in the future, please remember not to post someone else’s image or personal information without their consent. For more information, please review our Privacy Guidelines http://www.youtube.com/t/privacy_guidelines
From: Joseph Hickey
Date: Sep. 16, 2015
Subject: Re: YouTube Support
Dear YouTube Representative:
Re: Privacy complaint about YouTube video
This email is in response to your email dated Sept. 14, 2015 (see below) regarding a privacy complaint connected to my video uploaded to YouTube at the following URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EimyHwNgYu0
The video at issue constitutes my political expression on a matter of public interest: the conduct of an elected student association president and the president of a major Canadian university.
I ask you to dismiss the individual’s complaint for the following reasons.
I am a YouTube user based in Ottawa, Canada. Since 2010, I have posted many videos concerning the University of Ottawa and its community to my YouTube account. I have posted these videos first as a graduate student and now as an alumnus of the university, and as a former elected representative to the University of Ottawa Senate.
The YouTube video at issue is a clip of length 1 minute, 25 seconds, containing footage taken by the University of Ottawa of a public meeting held on Sept. 12, 2011 of the university Senate and posted on the university’s website (currently at the following URL: http://www.uottawa.ca/gouvernance/comite-video.html?id=2&vid=481)
Ms. Amalia Savva is featured in the video. Ms. Savva was President of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) on Sept. 12, 2011. The SFUO is a non-profit organization incorporated under the Corporations Act of Ontario that represents all of the approximately 36,000 undergraduate students at the University of Ottawa. The SFUO receives over $5 million in revenue yearly from student fees. The SFUO President is elected yearly by undergraduate students and receives a full-time salary.
The University of Ottawa is a publicly funded university regulated by Ontario law, with over 40,000 students. The University of Ottawa Senate is the highest committee regulating academic matters at the University of Ottawa. Pursuant to the University of Ottawa Act, 1965, the Senate has the power to:
- a) to control, regulate and determine the educational policy of the University according to Christian principles and its bilingual tradition and character;
b) to determine the courses of study and standards of admissions to the University and continued membership therein, and qualifications for degrees and diplomas;
c) to deal with all matters arising in connection with the awarding of fellowships, scholarships, bursaries, medals, prizes and other awards;
d) to confer the degrees of Bachelor, Master and Doctor, and all other degrees and diplomas in all branches of learning that may appropriately be conferred by a university;
e) to confer honorary degrees in any branch of higher learning with the concurrence of the Board;
f) to create committees to exercise its powers.
I was an elected representative to the University of Ottawa Senate for the academic years 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. I was present at the Sept. 11, 2011 meeting.
The YouTube video at issue contains footage of the Sept. 11, 2011 meeting of the University of Ottawa Senate. Ms. Savva is seen speaking (whispering) to the chairman of the Senate, who is also the President of the University of Ottawa, Mr. Allan Rock. Ms. Savva’s intervention took place during discussion of an item on the Senate’s Agenda, during its meeting. At the end of the YouTube video, Mr. Rock is seen announcing the content of Ms. Savva’s whispered message out loud, to the Senate at large. The discussion lead to a vote passing a “Motion on Academic Amnesty” at that meeting.
As a member of the Senate who was present at the Sept. 11, 2011 meeting, I wrote a blog post critical of Ms. Savva and Mr. Rock’s interaction entitled “SFUO President Amalia Savva Granted Whispering Rights at Senate by Allan Rock”. This blog post was posted on the Student’s-Eye View blog, which I co-manage, and which is dedicated to coverage and criticism of the University of Ottawa and its Senate.
YouTube and Freedom of Expression
The video at issue and the accompanying blog post contain my critical expression about matters of public interest: 1) the conduct of the SFUO President and University of Ottawa President at the public meeting of the university Senate of Sept. 11, 2011; and 2) the deliberation surrounding the “Motion on Academic Amnesty” passed at that meeting.
I note that the video does not breach YouTube’s “community guidelines”. I also note that the video contains no information that would allow a viewer to contact Ms. Savva.
Removing my video would silence and censor my free expression about the publicly-funded University of Ottawa, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, and about the university President and the SFUO President, who are public figures.
Any such silencing and censorship by YouTube in the name of responding to privacy complaints imposes a chill on free expression on the Internet. Instead of participating in censorship in this way, YouTube must be a leader in promoting robust and freewheeling expression and debate about all topics including about public figures such as those portrayed in my YouTube clip.
For these reasons I ask you to dismiss the complaint submitted Sept. 14, 2015.
Joseph Hickey, B.Sc., M.Sc. (University of Ottawa)
 SFUO constitution: <http://sfuo.ca/wp-content/uploads/Constitution-May2012.pdf> at pg. 23.
 Universities Canadad, “Enrolment by university” (2014): <http://www.univcan.ca/canadian-universities/facts-and-stats/enrolment-by-university/>.
 SFUO constitution: <http://sfuo.ca/wp-content/uploads/Constitution-May2012.pdf>.
 University of Ottawa Act, 1965: <https://www.uottawa.ca/about/governance/1965-university-of-ottawa-act> at para. 17.
 Minutes of the Sept. 11, 2011 meeting of the University of Ottawa Senate: <http://www.uottawa.ca/gouvernance/comite-proces-verbal.html?id=2&mid=480>.
 Student’s-Eye View blog post dated Sept. 29, 2011: <https://studentseyeview.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/sfuo-president-amalia-savva-granted-whispering-rights-at-senate-by-allan-rock/>.
 Student’s-Eye View: About: <https://studentseyeview.wordpress.com/about/>.
 YouTube Community Guidelines: <http://www.youtube.com/yt/policyandsafety/en-GB/communityguidelines.html#communityguidelines-respect>.
To: Joseph Hickey
Date: Sep. 17, 2015
Subject: Re: YouTube Support
For more information about our removal processes, please check out the following video: http://goo.gl/Dt5ZDw.
The YouTube Team