UK company taking Quebec to court over public data use

A website owned by a UK-based company is taking the Quebec government to court for prohibiting it from collecting public information on firms in the province and then making it available to help thwart fraud and other crime.

OpenCorporates.com claims to have public information on 125 million companies in 120 jurisdictions.

The company is petitioning Quebec Superior Court to declare it can legally collect, publish and distribute the public data found in the province's business registry.

The provincial government is contesting the petition, but says it is sensitive to OpenCorporates' concerns and is reviewing its law.

Journalists around the world have used OpenCorporates to write articles on fraud and money-laundering, such as the recent Panama Papers scandal, which exposed how multinationals hide cash in offshore tax havens.

Jean-Noe Landry -- who does not work for the website but has been asked to speak on behalf of the UK company -- says Quebec is the first jurisdiction in the world to refuse OpenCorporates access to its public data.