"Huge win for Canadian privacy"
Supreme Court’s historic decision on warrantless disclosures is huge win for Canadian privacy, means govt’s Bill C-13 is unconstitutional in current form
Court ruling vindicates Protect our Privacy Coalition and tens of thousands of Canadians who had been campaigning against warrantless disclosure of their private information
June 13, 2014 – In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that telecom providers cannot hand over their customers’ private information to government authorities without a warrant. The decision has huge implications for Canadians, hundreds of thousands of whom have seen their information obtained by the government, without a warrant, in recent years. It also means that highly controversial and unpopular warrantless disclosure provisions in the government’s Online Spying Bill C-13 are unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in R. v. Spencer that Internet users do have a right to keep their subscriber information private. The Court ruled that government requests to telecoms to hand over this information amount to a search and require a warrant. The ruling means that the widespread practice of government authorities acquiring Canadians’ private information form telecom providers without a warrant must now come to an end. Community-based OpenMedia.ca and the Protect our Privacy Coalition have been running a sustained campaign to end warrantless surveillance.
Responding to the news, OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson, said: “This is a historic decision that will protect countless law-abiding Canadians from being unjustly spied on by the government. Tens of thousands of Canadians have worked tirelessly to raise the alarm over how this government has been conducting warrantless surveillance of law-abiding citizens on a massive scale. All along we’ve said the government’s online spying Bill C-13 is reckless and irresponsible and today’s ruling vindicates those concerns. Now the government will finally have to take heed and withdraw their extreme spying provisions from their bill.”
In an article on his website, privacy expert Prof. Michael Geist, said: “The government's plans for expanded voluntary, warrantless disclosure under Bill C-13 must surely be reformed as it is unconstitutional. Just yesterday, Conservative MP Bob Dechert relied on R. v. Ward to support the C-13 approach with respect to immunity for voluntary disclosure. The court has effectively rejected the Ward decision and Dechert's defence of the provision no longer stands.”
Tens of thousands of Canadians have spoken out against the spying provisions of C-13 at http://OurPrivacy.ca