Canadian Supreme Court Says Government Needs To Get A Warrant To Get Your Internet Info

from the big-win-for-privacy dept

While we're still struggling with this stuff down here in the US, the Canadian Supreme Court made a huge decision earlier today, saying that the government must get a warrant to demand your information from an internet provider. In other words, your information is private, even if it's held by an internet company. The full ruling in this case, R. v. Spencer is worth reading, but the key finding is that there is an expectation of privacy in this information, and thus, searching it requires a warrant:
In my view, in the totality of the circumstances of this case, there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in the subscriber information. The disclosure of this information will often amount to the identification of a user with intimate or sensitive activities being carried out online, usually on the understanding that these activities would be anonymous. A request by a police officer that an ISP voluntarily disclose such information amounts to a search.
As Michael Geist points out, not only does this mean ISPs now need to change their procedures, but also (importantly) it should destroy the rationale for two new attempted bills concerning "legal access" (i.e., expanding the government's ability to get information via internet service providers without a warrant). This kind of ruling should fit equally at home with the 4th Amendment here in the US, but the issue still really hasn't been tested at the Supreme Court. Congrats up north, though, for actually recognizing the value of a warrant and just a bit of oversight on government surveillance.

Filed Under: canada, expectation of privacy, internet info, privacy, supreme court, third party doctrine, warrants

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2014 @ 7:32am

    ...Unlike the US...

    So, what effect does this have on the US? Does it address the US' data taps on backbone servers and international networks? Does it prevent the US from querying it's massive database? Certainly, any query applying the NSA's 3 degrees of separation, could query a Canadian citizen's intercepted data. So, other than protecting the Canadian population from their government's overreach, what, if anything, is the global effect of this ruling?

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