An Ontario judge in the province’s Superior Court of Justice ruled today that a police request for a “tower dump,” where all the call data from a single tower operated is transferred to police, went too far, and would have violated customers’ Charter rights in the process.
In 2014, police requested tower dumps from Rogers and Telus that would have led to the sharing of personal information with police of up to 40,000 customers, “virtually all of whom would have had nothing to do with the investigation,” according to David Watt, Chief Privacy Officer at Rogers.
While police eventually recanted the request, Telus and Rogers decided to challenge it legally in order to prevent orders of this magnitude from being issued in the future.
Carriers tend to comply with requests for personal information from police when they meet the scope expected in such an investigation, usually obtained through a warrant. A tower dump on such a broad scale, according to Telus and Rogers, violated its customers’ privacy and added a level of complexity to the proceedings that was out of line.
Watt continued, “At Rogers, we will only share customer information with law enforcement when required by law, or in emergencies after careful consideration of the request. For us, this request did not meet the test and we’re glad the Court agreed.”
Telus has not yet issued an official response to the decision.