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Canada Communications Privacy Your Rights Online

Supreme Court of Canada Rules That Text Messages Are Private 143

An anonymous reader writes "The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that text messages are private communication (Official Ruling) and therefore police are required to get a warrant to gain access to the text messages of private citizens. The CBC reports: '[Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Silberman] Abella said the only practical difference between text messaging and traditional voice communications is the transmission process. "This distinction should not take text messages outside the protection to which private communications are entitled," she wrote.'" Quite different from the attitude in the U.S.
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Supreme Court of Canada Rules That Text Messages Are Private

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  • by Punko ( 784684 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @01:33PM (#43293981)
    My understanding is that this particular telco was storing the texts. It wasn't that the police were interested in intercepting the messages live, but rather they wanted their general warrant to let them have access to the copies of the messages.

    The Court ruled that a wiretap warrant is required for the police to have access to the copies of the messages.

    As as I am aware, this telco is the only major player storing texts.
  • Summary incorrect (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @01:59PM (#43294253)

    As always, TFS is incorrect. Reading THE FIRST PARAGRAPH of the linked decision will tell you that.

    The police in this case obtained a general warrant and related assistance order under ss. 487.01 and 487.02 of the Criminal Code requiring Telus to provide the police with copies of any stored text messages sent or received by two Telus subscribers. The relevant part of the warrant required Telus to produce any messages sent or received during a twoweek period on a daily basis. Telus applied to quash the general warrant arguing that the prospective, daily acquisition of text messages from their computer database constitutes an interception of private communications and therefore requires authorization under the wiretap authorization provisions in Part VI of the Code.

    The police HAD a warrant. The court determined that a general warrant was not sufficient and that they required a specific WIRETAP warrant.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @02:02PM (#43294277)

    I suspect the OP was referring to the Constitutive Party of Canada who is currently in power and is trying to push for the same kinda of citizen spying shenanigans that are being pushed for by the US government.

  • summary is incorrect (Score:5, Informative)

    by sdavid ( 556770 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @02:32PM (#43294581)
    The Supreme Court decision requires a wiretap authorization, which is harder to get than a warrant. A warrant was always required and no one was arguing that it wasn't. Telus, for whatever reason, stores its text messages for some time. In this case the cops wanted to access these stored text messages as they were coming in. To work around the more difficult requirements of a wiretap authorization, they used a general warrant on the grounds that this was saved correspondence, not live communication. The majority of the Court didn't buy that argument, saying that this went against the purpose of the wiretap provisions, which is to protect interactive communication. What's interesting is that the majority didn't get tied up in the specifics of how the messages were handled and went with this purposive analysis.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @02:48PM (#43294729) Homepage

    Canada is a wonderful place, but one thing that Canadians do not know about is bacon. Hint: it's not ham.

    Canadian bacon isn't ham, it's the same pork belly and loin as American bacon. Ham is the leg, it's an entirely different part of the animal.

    We have multiple kinds of bacon in Canada -- back bacon (which is the same as the British bacon you mention []), Peameal bacon ( which is brined and rolled in pea meal), and plain old bacon.

    Well, I guess we also have that mysterious bacon which doesn't need to be refrigerated, which I assume is an invention of the US food industry.

    We know bacon, we just know more kinds than you do.

  • by nblender ( 741424 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @03:36PM (#43295287)

    Telus has admitted that it stores text messages for '30 days' for diagnostic purposes... That's not "briefly", in my opinion.

  • by m.ducharme ( 1082683 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @03:53PM (#43295557)

    Illegally obtained evidence can be ruled still admissible in Canadian courts. It's not automatic, the trial judge would have to rule on the admissibility on a case by case basis, depending on
    1) the seriousness of the Charter-infringing conduct of the State
    2) Impact of the Charter-Protected Interests of the Accused
    3) Society's Interest in an Adjudication on the Merits

    Basically, if the charge is serious and the cop can come up with a good reason for the breach, the evidence will probably go in. If the officer in charge basically just didn't care about your rights and dumped all over them, well then the Crown would have some trouble.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"