Court ruling helps Telus privacy fight

by Andrew Roach on March 28, 2013

With the way mobiles have become a major part of our daily lives, it means that they can hold data that could play a key role in helping unravel major crime cases.

However, the Supreme Court has ruled that information obtained from mobile phones needs to be gathered by a specific wiretap order rather than just a general warrant.

The move comes as Telus are set to appeal a ruling made in a case where the network provider was told that they had to hand over text messages to Ontario police in relation to a separate case.

As the ruling forces police to maintain a wiretap order to get the messages, it will now overturn the verdict in Telus’ favour.

After several weeks of deliberation, Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella ruled that as texts are a private means of communication, they can only be obtained through a special wiretap order.

This is because the only difference between text messages and phone conversations is the way they are sent qualifying them into the same category as one another.

The ruling was passed through in a 3-2 verdict which showed how the battle for privacy had split the courtroom virtually down the middle.

All the fuss has been over a court battle involving Telus who had been forced to hand over texts made by two of their customers in relation to a case in Owen Sound, Ontario.

As the police only had a general warrant, Canada’s third largest mobile provider had argued that they weren’t legally bound to hand over the texts.

Initially, a lower court had ruled against Telus in the case although the provider had already begun the appeals process against the verdict.

But the new ruling has overturned the initial verdict which has been met with warm reception from all involved with Telus’ case. These thoughts were reflected by their lead lawyer Scott Hutchison who told the media that they were happy that everything had been settled.

The new ruling will herald a shift in how digital privacy is viewed as the need to get a wiretap order will give both customers and providers greater security in who can access their private information on digital devices.

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Written by: Andrew Roach www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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