#CyberFLASH: Police need warrant for internet information: Supreme Court

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Police need a warrant to access basic personal information from telecom providers, the Supreme Court ruled Friday.

 The unanimous decision is at odds with the government’s anti-cyberbullying Bill C-13, currently before the Senate.

The bill — widely panned by civil libertarians and privacy experts — would allow private telecoms to pass personal information of Canadians to law enforcement even in the absence of a warrant.

The court ruled that was unconstitutional. Police may ask for information and telecoms can, to some degree, oblige. But if that information is to be used in court, a warrant must be obtained prior to obtaining the information, the court ruled.

The ruling is based on the case of Matthew Spencer, a young Saskatchewan man who was convicted of possessing child pornography but claimed police violated his privacy rights during their investigation.

Police suspected Spencer downloaded child pornography between August and September 2007 using the file-sharing program LimeWire.

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