Citizens’ mobile privacy threatened

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CordUnsignedLast week when the Court of Appeal for Ontario ruled that police officers have the authority to search a cellphone that is not password protected upon an arrest, Canadian citizens realized the diminishing privacy we have in the face of the law.

While this will only apply to individuals who are arrested, it still creates a blurred boundary surrounding what is classified as a “thing” and what is a person’s private property. If police find a person’s front door open, they do not have the right to enter the home, let alone search it without a warrant. However, if you are arrested and searched by a police officer and your cellphone happens to not be password protected, its contents can easily become public knowledge.

What is so threatening about this possibility is the significant amount of personal information we carry around on our phones. In this day and age with Twitter, Facebook, photos, texting and e-mails available on mobile devices, it is increasingly easier to access a multitude of personal platforms.

Considering how much personal information most of us store on our mobile devices, it  is reasonable to see having your cellphone searched as a greater breach of privacy than having a police officer enter your home.

While it is worth mentioning that this ruling can be viewed as positive, as it could potentially reveal evidence of a crime, it still blurs the regulations surrounding what is and is not acceptable police behaviour.

Since this ruling allows police to search the cellphone of an arrested person, at what point will they rule it acceptable to search the cellphone of a suspicious person?

For these reasons, it is important we understand our rights as citizens, especially when it comes to the basics of our right to privacy.

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