Privacy and the Internet – The Supreme Court Defends Anonymity of Online Users

Mr. Matthew David Spencer won the battle but lost the war in the recent ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada of R. v. Spencer, 2014 SCC 43. The unanimous 8 member panel has made it very clear that persons using the Internet have a reasonable expectation of privacy, including a reasonable expectation that their anonymity will be respected. While the Court allowed the admission of evidence obtained in this case through the police’s warrantless acquisition of Mr. Spencer’s identity from the internet service provider (“ISP”), from this point on, police in Canada must understand that they will need authorized searches through the use of properly issued warrants in order to overcome this presumption of preservation of anonymity.

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