Canada’s Right to Online Anonymity

Following EU’s Right to be Forgotten, Canada Goes Anonymous

Last month we all watched the EU recognize the right to be forgotten online. The case told search engines that upon request, some links should be deleted (though not the original content). Of course, it was immediately abused, but the right remains.

Now our neighbors to the North have recognized the right to online anonymity. Essentially, it is a recognition that law enforcement needs a warrant to search online information. Unlike the US, where online information is generally not protected by the Fourth Amendment because it goes through a third party (your ISP), Canada is now saying that they will recognize the expectation of privacy in online activities.

Of course, law enforcement is upset, but it raises an interesting question. At what point does the expectation of privacy become more important than the actuality of privacy? Even here in the US, we have a split between the 5th and 11th Circuits about whether your location is private information, since your cell phone transmits it everywhere you go. Clearly, there is no actual privacy since data is constantly being sent to cell towers, but don’t we kind of expect it anyway?

Wall Street Journal – Canadians Have a Right to Online Anonymity, Nation’s Top Court Rules