Supreme Court is right to protect privacy of text messages: Editorial

December 12, 2017
Article Source
Toronto Star

The Supreme Court of Canada last week acquitted an Ontario man convicted of trafficking handguns. And as distasteful as that ruling may sound, it was the right decision.

That's because it upholds every citizens' Charter rights against unreasonable search and seizure by recognizing that text messages, "in some cases," deserve privacy protections.

In fact, the decision essentially means police must obtain a warrant to check for text messages in the same way they now must get one to listen to phone conversations.

It updates the law on Charter protections to take into account one of the most common forms of day-to-day communication.

As Justice Malcolm Rowe put it, the decision recognizes that "the broad and general right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure… is meant to keep pace with technological development."

Indeed, texts are the "modern equivalent of the phone conversation," Ann Cavoukian of Ryerson University's Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence told the Star. "Surely protections that extend to phone conversations should extend to texts. Privacy is all about personal control over information."

The decision also recognized that texts are not just protected on the phone of the sender, but on the receiver's device as well.

Indeed, Nour Marakah was convicted not on evidence that was found on his BlackBerry, but on texts he had sent to the iPhone of the recipient, Andrew Winchester.

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