Balancing, Privacy, and Mobile Information

54 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2017

See all articles by Simon Stern

Simon Stern

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 14, 2017

Abstract

Although the privacy of text messages, when retrieved from the recipient, has been solved in US jurisprudence largely by the third-party doctrine, the Canadian courts have rendered the analysis much more complex, in part because they have repudiated the third-party doctrine, and in part because they have adopted a set of different tests that courts have used haphazardly. I propose that despite this complexity, the question affords a relatively simple answer. Normatively speaking, there is no reason to distinguish among letters, email, and text messages: they all attract the same basic privacy interest. However, if the police have objective grounds for believing that particular individuals have been exchanging text messages in furtherance of a crime, the standard of reasonable suspicion is sufficient to justify a limited search, aimed solely at obtaining those messages. This approach allows the public to remain secure in the knowledge that their text messages are not open to random and baseless searches by the police, while nevertheless affording the police access to text messages just when they can articulate objective grounds for believing that the messages will disclose evidence of crime.

Suggested Citation

Stern, Simon, Balancing, Privacy, and Mobile Information (March 14, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2932624 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2932624

Simon Stern (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.utoronto.ca/faculty-staff/full-time-faculty/simon-stern

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