SCC decision in R. v. Reeves – Data privacy: how much consent is enough consent?

Last week, in R. v. Reeves, the Supreme Court of Canada clarified the law around an individual’s right to privacy in relation to shared devices, such as personal computers (Justices Côté and Moldaver wrote separate, concurring reasons). In holding that a third party cannot waive an individual’s rights under s. 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Reeves marks the Court’s first pronouncement on whether a third party with a property interest in an electronic device can unilaterally consent to state seizure of the device and the data within it.

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects individuals from unjustified state intrusions upon their privacy, including intrusions upon data privacy. The objective of s. 8 is to protect a core of personal information, which an individual in a free and democratic society would wish to maintain and control, from dissemination to the state. The essence of s. 8 of the Charter is protection from the taking of an item by a public authority without a warrant, unless the claimant has no reasonable expectation of privacy in the item or the claimant has given consent to the taking: valid consent acts as a waiver of the claimant’s s. 8 rights.


This content has been updated on May 2, 2024 at 13 h 57 min.