The Supreme Court of Canada was recently asked to deal with a criminal law situation involving smartphone security.
An Ontario man who was charged with second-degree murder had his smartphone seized by police. When they attempted
to execute a search warrant to retrieve data on the phone, it was found to be locked using a digital swipe pattern.
When the police applied without notice to the accused for a search warrant, that application was accompanied by another
application to compel the accused to produce the swipe pattern.
The judge hearing the initial applications granted the search warrant but denied granting the assistance order. He left opportunity for the Crown to re-apply for the assistance order, but upon notice being given to the accused.
The Crown re-applied upon notice to the accused.
The motion judge dismissed the application for an assistance order, and the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed that Crown appeal for want of jurisdiction.
Since law dealing with smartphones and other electronic devices are still new and developing, this is a case of interest to those who work frequently with electronics.
Jim is a Partner at Rowanoak Law Office.