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Monthly Archives: August 2016

The Potential Dangers of App Permissions

app_icon_applicationsThe recent launch of Pokémon GO—a popular augmented reality game and mobile app that connects with a user’s Google account—has sparked a larger conversation about mobile app permissions and social media connectivity. This is largely due to the fact that, in an early version of the game, Pokémon GO had full access to a user’s Google accounts, unbeknownst to most users.

Similar mobile apps that link to social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are common, as they offer an easy way for users to register, post updates and connect with others. This permissions process is typically referred to as “oauth,” and essentially allows for easy third-party authorization through an open framework, either via the web or through mobile apps.

The problem is, however, that these types of app permissions have become commonplace to the point where users no longer consider what information they are sharing across various applications. Oftentimes, it’s not clear what kinds of information is gathered through “oauth”.

To compound the issue, in most cases, users are not given the option pick and choose what information they’d like to publish or share once two apps are connected. As such, in the event that an app is hacked, malicious parties could have full access to a slew of personal information.

To protect themselves, professionals recommend that users review their app permissions at least once a month. Instructions on how to do this for each social media application can be found here.


© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

Pokémon Go Liability Issues

Man using his Mobile Phone outdoor, close up

Pokémon Go is a free-to-play game for iOS and Android devices. Since its debut, the game has exploded in usage, surpassing Twitter as the most popular app in the app store.

At its core, Pokémon Go is a game that uses a smartphone’s GPS and gyroscope sensors to determine a player’s location. Based on that information, the game displays a random variety of fictional creatures called Pokémon through the phone’s camera. The game also marks popular and prominent locations, such as parks, memorials and other frequently visited areas, as places where players can compete with each other and collect free in-game items. These areas are called Pokéstops and generally attract large crowds of players throughout a given day.

In essence, the goal of the game is to walk to various locations and catch as many of the Pokémon as possible. And, while the game may seem harmless, it carries a number of inherent risks—risks that you should be aware of in order to protect yourself and others.

Car Accidents

Because Pokémon Go requires players to be fixated on their phone screens, there’s an increased risk of auto accidents if people play this game while driving. This is despite distracted driving being forbidden in most provinces.

In fact, just a week after the game launched, a driver playing Pokémon Go sent two Quebec City police officers to the hospital after crashing into a police cruiser. And, that’s just one example—accidents caused by Pokémon Go have been reported all across Canada.

Drivers aren’t the only ones at risk of injury either. Pedestrians and cyclists should be mindful of their surroundings, as inattentive motorists playing Pokémon Go can pose a serious threat.

If you own a business that employs drivers, staff should be reminded of your driving policies and to never use mobile devices when operating a motor vehicle. Keeping in mind the basic rules of the road can keep both drivers and pedestrians safe when it comes to Pokémon Go.


As previously stated, Pokémon Go marks prominent locations as Pokéstops. It is at these stops where a player can collect items for free, and, if a special item (a “lure module”) is employed, attract Pokémon more easily.

When this lure module is used, nearby players that have their app open are notified and are likely to be drawn to the Pokéstop. By exploiting this method, thieves can attract Pokémon Go players to secluded locations and potentially rob them.

Pokémon Go players should refrain from playing the game late at night or alone. Whenever possible, stay in well-lit and high-traffic areas.

Business and property owners should be on the lookout as well for suspicious individuals to help protect themselves. The popularity of Pokémon Go has led to more and more foot traffic in areas that previously may not have been as active. This, in turn, has increased the likelihood of an incident like vandalism or burglary.

It’s important to note whether or not Pokémon Go is popular around your property, as this could lead to further concerns regarding theft.

Injuries on Personal or Business Property

Because Pokémon Go requires users to concentrate on their phone screens, it’s possible that they could become distracted and hurt themselves while playing the game.

And, in the event that a Pokémon Go user is injured on your personal or business property, you could be held responsible. That’s where property insurance can help.

Property insurance generally includes something called occupiers’ liability, which will ensure that you are equipped with the proper protection if a Pokémon Go player hurts him- or herself on your property.

For added protection, property owners are encouraged to post warning signs that highlight nearby hazards. Additionally, designating areas on your property as Pokémon Go-safe can help players further avoid injury.


Through the nature of the game, Pokémon Go players are encouraged to explore their surroundings. However, this can lead to them unlawfully breaking into spaces, which is a problem for both players and property owners alike.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has warned Pokémon Go players that they will be apprehended if they are caught playing the game in private areas. Players could also face fines if they are found in violation of Section 177 of the Canadian Criminal Code, which states: “Everyone who, without lawful excuse, the proof of which lies on him, loiters or prowls at night on the property of another person near a dwelling-house situated on that property is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.”

Niantic, the company behind Pokémon Go, is now accepting requests for the removal of Pokéstops, which could dissuade players from certain areas. But it may not be enough.

Utilizing no trespassing signage around areas you do not want Pokémon Go players to explore can be a good first line of defence against unwanted visitors. Contact your local authorities if you believe a person is trespassing on your property.

Mitigating the Risk

There are a variety of risks inherent with Pokémon Go and they can vary in severity depending on your situation. In general, keep in mind the following safety tips:

  • Secure your property. Mitigate potential dangers, like trespassing and theft, by utilizing signage and fencing. Keep your car, business and house locked at night and ensure that expensive items are out of view.
  • Remove safety hazards. Examine your premises, looking for any hazards that Pokémon Go players could injure themselves on. Focusing on areas of high traffic can also help identify common hazards.
  • Report issues. If you see an individual using Pokémon Go while he or she is driving or if you are concerned about player safety for any other reason, contact your local authorities. They can help address any issues and take action if necessary. This will help keep Pokémon Go users safe and can prevent issues from worsening.

Pokémon Go isn’t likely to decrease in popularity anytime soon, and it’s important for businesses, players and community residents to be aware of common liability risks associated with the app. Doing so can help prevent a catastrophe before it occurs.


© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

Understanding Construction Contracts

Close - up construction contract with pen and architectural rollConstruction contracts can contain terms that impact your company’s bottom line. Reviewing them carefully prior to signing is indispensable, and can save your company time and money. This contract review guide is meant to be a starting point for reviewing contracts in general. It highlights some common contract terms and their potential impact. You can begin to understand which terms are most often negotiated in contracts. Then, with the help of licensed inside or outside counsel, you can analyze the commercial risks associated with construction contracts in depth and understand terms and conditions in order to protect your company’s assets.

Scope of the Agreement

Examine the definition of services to be provided in order to ensure the language is clear enough for an unrelated third party to understand the scope. The contract should include a time frame for completion of services. The rights and obligations of both parties should be clearly outlined. Any mechanism for changing the scope of the contract, as well as any of the terms, if allowed, should also be outlined within the contract

Terms of Payment

Terms of payment should be clearly listed within the contract so that the expectations of both parties are clear. The contract should specify the agreed payment schedule for goods received.


There are two types of warranties: express and implied. Both types are assurances regarding particular issues, such as performance.

Express warranties are those that are defined specifically in the contract. Implied warranties are based in statutory and/or common law, depending on your jurisdiction.

They are two-fold: a warranty of merchantability, which requires that goods/services must reasonably conform to an ordinary buyer’s standards, and a warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, which states that if a seller knows the intended purpose for the product or service, the act of selling the product to that customer implies that it is fit for that purpose.

Be aware of warranty disclaimers and understand how the disclaimer limits your statutory rights. If it disclaims all warranties, express and implied, then you will likely be limited to the remedies in the contract for issues related to things like performance. You should also examine any disclaimer in the context of the contract. While it may require you to disclaim your statutory rights, other contract language may give you adequate rights and remedies regarding the points about which you are most concerned.

Damages, Limits of Liability and Indemnification

These three items are often in close proximity to one another in a contract, as they are interrelated. Damages may be defined as certain types of losses that could create liability under the contract. A limit on liability would restrict the amount of damages that a party would be required to pay if found liable for such damages. Sometimes this may also include a limit for indemnification.

Indemnification provisions allocate risk and cost between the parties. It is important to examine whether the party assuming the risk is the party with the most control over that risk. For instance, when a company’s employees are required to work at a customer’s location, the company is often asked to release the customer from all liability relating to the employees’ presence at the customer’s location.

In some cases, indemnification is limited to negligence or to a specific dollar amount, under a heading of “Limits of Liability.”


Some contracts will contain minimum bodily injury and property damage liability coverage amounts that the party must possess and they also may require that customers are added as an additional insured on those coverages.

Prior to consenting to any contract, it is prudent to examine insurance coverage against the amount of liability exposure in a particular contract.

Terms and Conditions

Governing Law and Jurisdiction – Look at the governing law provision to make sure that you are comfortable with the implications of the provincial law chosen by the drafter. This can impact the interpretation of the contract from warranties to indemnification.

Additionally, when specific laws are referenced in the body of a contract, it is as though that statute or regulation is wholly contained within the contract itself. It is vital to read and understand that language prior to giving your consent. This happens regularly in government contracting situations.

Dispute Resolution – This is another clause with which you must be comfortable with the laws of the province or forum chosen by the drafter. The rules chosen to govern dispute resolution can impact the outcome. Additionally, you should consider whether dispute resolution is right for your situation.

Intellectual Property – When you are disclosing and/or licensing your company’s intellectual property, be it trademarks, copyrights or patents, it is important to include a clause that recognizes the owner of such intellectual property and affirmatively states that the agreement does not transfer any rights.

Standard of Care – A standard of care clause may appear in certain types of contracts. The standard of care that is provided by the law should provide the minimum standard of care for the provision of services under the contract.

Term/Termination – The contract should provide both parties with the right to terminate the contract. The situations in which termination is allowed will vary from contract to contract. Some contracts will allow the right to terminate in cases of dissatisfaction; others will allow it with a specific notice, for no cause. It is important that you consider in what cases you would want the right to terminate the contract. There should also be language defining the term of the contract. Does it have a finite term? Does it automatically renew each period?

Right to Cure – Related to termination, some contracts will contain a right to cure clause. This would give the defaulting party notice of a breach and a finite period of time in which to remedy such breach.

Standard Form Contracts

Contracts produced by professional and trade associations for architects, engineers and commercial contractors can serve as important references and benchmarks when drafting a new construction contract. They are a good source of industry best practices, and using them can greatly reduce drafting and review time, meaning lower overall transaction costs for your company.

For all of their advantages, there are several things that you should be cautious about when using standard form contracts. Note the following cautions about standard forms before using them.

  • Standard forms, which are written broadly to encompass many different contexts, require transaction-specific and jurisdiction-specific modifications. For example, certain provinces may require that indemnities be written in a certain way.
  • Changes made to one part of the document, such as definitions of words or terms, may affect other parts that make reference to it.
  • Custom-drafted and industry-drafted forms are often incompatible. Even industry-drafted forms from different publishers can be incompatible.
  • Standard forms always contain the bias of the drafter. Use this bias; know when to use various standard forms published by different industry organizations.

General Understanding

Reviewing general terms and features of a construction contract will help you grasp the consequences of its terms and conditions for your business. In any case, to ensure its completeness and accuracy, it is necessary to submit each contract you must sign to legal review.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

Fort McMurray Wildfire Named Costliest Disaster in Canadian History

forest fireThe wildfire that devastated Fort McMurray was named the costliest insured natural disaster in Canadian history. In total, the event generated $3.58 billion in losses, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. The total losses are more than double those associated with Canada’s second costliest disaster, the 2013 southern Alberta flood, which cost $1.7 billion in insurance claims.

The wildfire, which was finally brought under control on July 5, 2016, was Canada’s largest-ever evacuation. The fire impacted 1.4 million acres of area, destroying 2,400 homes and other buildings. In total, more than 27,000 personal property insurance claims averaging $81,000 each were filed.

While experts can’t point to a singular cause of the fire, some say it was the result of unusually high temperatures and a dry winter. And, with weather changes causing continuous problems, it is likely that more fires similar to the one that ravaged Fort McMurray could be imminent.

To protect themselves, businesses are encouraged to seek the appropriate insurance coverage to defend against substantial losses. Additionally, a business continuity plan can help ensure that, even after extensive damage has occurred, a business can successfully operate following a disaster—natural or otherwise.

Such plans should analyze potential threats, identify key stakeholders, provide emergency contact information, create a recovery team, backup important data, establish a communication strategy and list potential alternative operations sites.

So while wildfires and other disasters are often unpredictable, keeping in mind the above advice can help you prepare for the worst.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.



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