Important Supreme Court privacy decisions in the United States, Riley v California, and Canada, Spencer v R & ors.

June 26, 2014

Yesterday the US Supreme Court in Riley v California handed down a very important decision on privacy, regarding the right of a police officer to search digital information on a cell phone who had been arrested.   Earlier this month the Canadian Supreme Court handed down a privacy related decision in Spencer v R & ors regarding accessing internet search history from an ISP without a warrant.  Both are significant and will have a along lasting impact on their own jurisdictions and beyond.  Both should be required reading by those who want a more effective privacy regime in Australia. The underpinnings of each decision, the Bill of Rights in the US and the Canadian Charter and its privacy legislation, differ to those in existence in Australia but the principles and analysis are both apposite.

While a further analysis is required the key findings in Riley, a unanimous decision, are that:

 (a) a warrantless search is reasonable only if it falls within a specific exception to the Fourth Amendment ’s warrant requirement.

(b) the Court declined to extend the exception to searches of data stored on cell phones.  The Court generally determines whether to exempt a given type of search from the warrant requirement “by assessing, on the one hand, the degree to which it intrudes upon an individual’s privacy and, on the other, the degree to which it is needed for the promotion of legitimate governmental interests.” The search of digital information on a cell phone does not further the government interests  and implicates substantially greater individual privacy interests Read the rest of this entry »

Complainant AY v Public Sector Employer [2013] VPrivCmr 02

April 12, 2013

In Complainant AY v Public Sector Employer [2013] VPrivCmr 02 the Victorian Privacy Commissioner considered a serious complaint about a breach of privacy by a public sector employer.


In approximately 2006 Read the rest of this entry »

Federal Trade Commission resolves Facebook Privacy issues with a settlement

August 11, 2012

The Federal Trade Commission has announced a settlement with Facebook regarding its policies on sharing information beyond the established privacy settings.

The announcement (found here) provides:

Facebook Must Obtain Consumers’ Consent Before Sharing Their Information Beyond Established Privacy Settings

Following a public comment period, the FTC has accepted as final a settlement with Facebook resolving charges that Facebook deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public.

The settlement requires Facebook to Read the rest of this entry »