July 20, 2024
“If [the Charter] is to meaningfully protect the online privacy of Canadians in today’s overwhelmingly digital world, it must protect their IP addresses,” reads the ruling.

Supreme Court rules police must obtain warrant to acquire IP addresses

Police will now be required to get a court order or a warrant to obtain the IP address of computers belonging to individuals or organizations, following a Supreme Court of Canada ruling on Friday.

The issue at hand was whether or not an IP address alone, without that attached personal information, was protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms privacy expectations.

The court ruled that it was a reasonable expectation of privacy that a person’s IP address should require a warrant prior to a search, in a five-four split decision.

Justice Andromache Karakatsanis, who ruled in favour of the decision, wrote that an IP address is “the crucial link between an internet user and their online activity.”

“Thus, the subject matter of this search was the information these IP addresses could reveal about specific internet users including, ultimately, their identity.”

However, dissenting Justice Suzanne Côté disagreed with Karakatsanis central argument, saying that privacy around an IP address alone should not be an expectation of privacy under the Charter.

The recent decision was based on the case of Andrei Bykovets, a man convicted of 14 online fraud offences involving purchases made from a liquor store in Alberta, according to CBC News.

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