A landmark Supreme Court decision came down last Friday: R. v. Spencer.

This case takes Canada away from the past regime where police could request subscriber information corresponding to an IP without a warrant. In earlier lower court decisions judges have relied on ISP terms of service to say that users have no reasonable expectation of privacy. The legal theory was that the contracts users enter into allowed ISPs to disclose information to police so it was permitted. The Supreme Court unanimously rejected this regime and declared such searches "presumptively unreasonable":

"I conclude therefore that the police request to Shaw for subscriber information corresponding to specifically observed, anonymous Internet activity engages a high level of informational privacy." (para 51)

"A request by a police officer that an ISP voluntarily disclose such information amounts to a search." (para 66)

"A warrantless search, such as the one that occurred in this case, is presumptively unreasonable ..." (para 68)

I wonder how much Snowden had to do with this decision. It certainly shows that judges have woken up to the importance of the Internet in a free society.