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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 vux984 ( 928602 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @01:57PM (#43294225)

    My understanding is that this particular telco was storing the texts.

    According to the ruling, they stored the texts 'breifly'. It sounded like the police needed a daily capture of the data in order to get everything.

    Its not like these were long term logs.

    I would guess it was an implementation of the SMS queue where when you send a text that's undeliverable because the destination phone is unreachable it hold its it for a while to attempt to deliver it later. It probably just put all messages into the queue, marked delivered messages when they were delivered, and then purged them daily.

    At least that's what it sounded like to me.

  • by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @01:58PM (#43294239)

    There are extreme circumstances where obtaining a warrant will take more time than you have, and in such cases, I don't oppose implementing a wire tap or intercepting communications to get the information needed, on two very important conditions: there is disclosure after the fact, and a warrant is subsequently obtained. The first speaks for itself, and for the second: If the warrant is not obtained for any reason, then any information gathered by this means can't be used in criminal proceedings. Given how much information can be gotten through such a tap, you'd better be absolutely certain that there is an urgent and immediate need to implement a tap, and that your evidence to justify it is adequate, otherwise you can throw your own case out by doing it.

    It is still possible to have that form of warrantless information gathering while still having an open and democratic government, but you need to be open about the information gathering too, when it happens. What passes for democracy in the states is a far cry from how I actually envision it.

  • by Reverand Dave ( 1959652 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @05:16PM (#43296635)
    No shit it's a slippery slope. The whole thing is a slippery slope which is why you have to objectively say "no" right out of the gate. There are already a special set of rules for life threatening situations. The police don't need a warrant to enter your house if you're holding a gun to someone's head. The don't need a warrant to arrest you if you're waving a gun around in public. Those are separate issues than spying on someone and if a threat is really imminent enough that you need to illegally tap a phone to save a life, you're kind of already too late. Make the police do the job they were hired to do like everyone else. No cutting corners. Period.

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM