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Supreme Court of Canada says a computer’s IP address deserves privacy protection

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada says police need judicial authorization to obtain a computer’s internet protocol address, calling the identification number a crucial link between a person and their online activity.

The top court’s ruling came today in a case that began in 2017 when Calgary police investigated fraudulent online transactions from a liquor store.

The store’s third-party payment processor voluntarily gave police two IP addresses — numerical identifiers assigned by an internet service provider.

Police obtained a production order compelling the service provider to disclose the name and address of the customers.

Police then got warrants to search two homes, leading to the arrest of Andrei Bykovets, who was eventually convicted on several counts.

The trial judge had rejected the argument that the police request to obtain the IP addresses violated his Charter guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2024.

The Canadian Press


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