Vancouver real estate board threatens ThinkPol with lawsuit to protect foreign buyer privacy

By ThinkPol Staff

Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver is threatening ThinkPol with legal action after we broke the story[1] about how developer Westbank pre-sold nearly one in four Kensington Garden condos, which were heavily marketed overseas, to flippers.

Chris Bennett at the law firm DLA Piper sent ThinkPol a letter[2] on REBGV’s behalf asking us to take down all MLS information that we received from a realtor and used in that article, claiming that our data could be a threat to foreign buyers.

The REBGV’s lawyers allege that ThinkPol’s actions are “unauthorized and illegal.”

“Furthermore, your disclosure of personal information has violated the privacy of several individuals, and has identified them as potential targets for third parties who have concerns about foreign ownership of Vancouver real estate,” Bennett wrote.

REBGV’s counsel is demanding that ThinkPol “immediately and permanently: (a) cease accessing, using, copying and disclosing the Board’s data and database, and (b) destroy all access codes in your possession or control regarding the Board’s database, and (c) remove all of the Board’s data from your website, and (d) destroy all data and other content in your possession or control which you obtained directly or indirectly from the Board’s database.”

Prominent Vancouver litigator Paul Doroshenko responded[3] to REBGV’s lawyers on ThinkPol’s behalf asking them to show exactly why our actions are “unauthorized and illegal” as they claim.

“You state in your letter that the cited journalistic reporting of ThinkPol Media Inc. is ‘unauthorized and illegal.’” Doroshenko wrote. “Based on your letter I cannot determine how the cited article is unauthorized and illegal. Simply put, you have made a bare accusation without referring to any law which has been violated or case law to Support your allegation.”

“Without further detail concerning how, in your client’s view, the article is unauthorized and illegal, I cannot properly advise my client,” Doroshenko added. “If you wish to provide details concerning the legal bases for the accusation it may assist me to advise my client.”

While removing MLS data from the article may be the path of least resistance, the founders of ThinkPol firmly believe that freedom of journalistic expression is crucial to a fair and just society. The press plays the role of ‘watchdog’ of the public interest.

We owe it to our half-a-million strong readership to stand up to any bullying attempts by predators of press freedom to deprive citizens of vital information by means of copyright chill.

We wish to remind those who seek to use such tactics that neither the courts nor the Internet are kind to bullies who attempt to use vexatious and frivolous litigation to silence the press.

ThinkPol needs your help. While other media outlets are content reproducing real estate industry press releases, we carry out painstaking analysis of real estate data, spending hours combing through the data. We are constantly threatened with lawsuits and other forms of intimidation by those who wish to prevent our readers from learning the truth.

Please consider chipping in to help ThinkPol.

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