#CyberFLASH: Can law enforcement legally access data on your smartphone in Canada?

mobile-securityThe debate over whether Apple should comply with a U.S. court order asking it to hack an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters has grown tense over the last week as tech executives, privacy experts and legal pundits weigh in.

The case has stirred up much debate – thanks to Apple’s concerns of creating a so-called backdoor into the iPhone – but it also has many people asking questions about what happens to smartphone data in criminal investigations.

Which got us thinking – can law enforcement agencies legally access data on your smartphone here in Canada? If so, what legal requirements have to be met?

“With respect to the case involving Apple, although raised in the U.S., this is an issue of universal importance. One principle to keep in mind is that companies need to be governed by the rule of law,” said Tobi Cohen, a spokesperson from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

“That being said, the issue of whether it is possible for tech companies ‎to comply with warrants without affecting the safeguards that protect all of us is something that must also be taken into account.”

When it comes to the legalities of this question in Canada, there are two important court rulings we must look at.

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