According to the details of the ruling, regardless of whether the devices are protected by passwords, police officers will now be permitted to look at the contents of a suspect’s cell phone if they have been suspected of committing a crime.
Despite the fact that it could help the police to solve major cases, the ruling has the potential to cause a great deal of friction within data security spheres, with results that could be catastrophic.
If the police are granted this kind of access, especially to devices owned by corporate executives or government officials, they may put some highly sensitive information at risk, including financial data and classified government documents.
With 2014 already being considered as the “year of the data breach” by several digital security experts, providing the police with complete access to mobile devices could prove to be very detrimental to both local and federal governments, and major organizations.
The question of whether law enforcement should be provided with unbridled access to cell phones was unanimously dismissed by the Ontario Court of Appeal in February 2013.
“If the cell phone had been password protected or otherwise ‘locked’ to users other than the appellant, it would not have been appropriate to take steps to open the cell phone and examine its contents without first obtaining a search warrant,” wrote Ontario Court Justice Robert P. Armstrong in the decision.
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