Jeopardy! uses new law to stop Canadian contestants from appearing on game show

Surely Canadians who want to be on Jeopardy! are going to give their consent to be emailed by the show. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Surely Canadians who want to be on Jeopardy! are going to give their consent to be emailed by the show. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

I’ll take confusion for $400, Alex.

It’s been a few days since news leaked that Canadians are no longer allowed to apply to be contestants on the popular CBS game show Jeopardy!

A brief statement on the Jeopardy! website states: “At this time we are precluded from accepting registration information from Canadian residents. We are currently evaluating this matter.”

So why are Canadians no longer allowed to be contestants on Jeopardy!?

A publicist for the show released a statement saying: "As international laws governing how information is shared over the internet are ever-changing and complex, we are currently investigating how we can accept registrations from potential Canadian contestants.”

This statement has left lawyers scratching their heads.

What Canadian laws could possibly prevent Canadians from becoming contestants?

Internet law expert Michael Geist told the National Post: ““That’s really strange. The only major law that has changed in recent years is the anti-spam legislation. However, there is nothing in the law that would preclude Canadians from taking an online test, wherever located.”

Canada’s Anti-Spam legislation came into effect on July 1, 2014. The law requires companies to get consent from customers if they plan to email them.

However, it’s difficult to see how the show can’t get around that. Surely Canadians who want to be on Jeopardy! are going to give their consent to be emailed by the show.

This is also the view of Éloïse Gratton, a lawyer who specializes in privacy law who told CBC News: “It's very weird. . . Our privacy laws are consent-based so usually people who would apply and enter into a contest — all they would need to do is to agree to the terms. So I'm not sure."

That begs the question whether there are other things going on of which we are unaware.

Have there been past legal issues with Canadian contestants and is this why the show is trying to make unclear references to online privacy laws in order to prevent Canadians from becoming contestants?

Or is it that Canadians are just too successful at playing Jeopardy!?

Whatever the case may be, the situation is quite odd, because it looks like the ban applies to Canadians only. The show’s requirements for being eligible are that “applicants must be over 18.” The website doesn’t mention banning people from other countries in their eligibility section.

Hopefully Canada won’t pass yet another law that could have the show saying: “what is disqualification from hosting” to Canadian show host Alex Trebek, and send him packing to his hometown of Sudbury, Ontario.

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