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Privacy czar sees latitude over police access to Internet customer data

OTTAWA — The privacy czar says there are instances — albeit very limited ones — when police may not need a warrant to obtain some Internet customer information.


In an interview, privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien says there may be a way to meet at least some police demands for warrantless access to information while respecting a key Supreme Court of Canada ruling.

In June last year, the Supreme Court ruled police must have a judge’s authorization to obtain customer data linked to online activities.

The high court rejected the notion the federal privacy law governing companies allowed them to hand over subscriber identities voluntarily.

Police say telecommunications companies and other service providers — such as banks and rental companies — now demand court approval for nearly all types of requests from authorities for basic identifying information.

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The Supreme Court judgment came amid mounting public concern about authorities quietly gaining access to customer data with little oversight or independent scrutiny.


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