US Supreme Court to consider whether online search service should face class action for placing incorrect information

April 28, 2015

In US the courts are quite reluctant to award general damages Read the rest of this entry »

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 »