The Supreme Court Justices pose for a group photo during the official welcoming ceremony for Justice Malcolm Rowe, in Ottawa, Friday, December 2, 2016. Top row, left to right, Justice Russell Brown, Justice Clement Gascon, Justice Suzanne Cote, and Justice Malcolm Rowe. Bottom row, left to right, Justice Andromache Karakatsanis, Justice Rosalie Abella, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, Justice Michael Moldaver, Justice Richard Wagner. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Text messages can be considered private even once received, Supreme Court says

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court says Canadians can expect the text messages they send to remain private — at least in some instances — even after the messages reach their destination.

In a potentially significant 5-2 ruling today, the high court set aside the firearms convictions of a Toronto man whose messages were found by police on the mobile phone of an alleged accomplice.

The court says Nour Marakah had a reasonable expectation of privacy concerning the messages, meaning he had a right to challenge the police search of the phone as a violation of his guarantees under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In her reasons for the majority, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin notes that Marakah was the author of the text messages introduced as evidence against him, that he expected the electronic conversation to remain private and that he asked the recipient numerous times to delete the messages.

However, the court cautions that much depends on the facts of a case, and that the outcome might be different in other circumstances.

In a second ruling today, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal of gun and drug convictions in a case where police had a production order to seize text messages stored on a Telus server.

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