Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

PC privacy presumed at work: top court

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OTTAWA -- Employees doing personal business on a company computer should have a reasonable expectation their business is private, the Supreme Court of Canada said Friday.

And while that expectation is a limited one, it does extend to employers being unable to simply turn illegal material over to police, the top court said.

It ordered a new trial for teacher Richard Cole, who had argued his charter right to freedom from unreasonable search was violated when his school principal turned over his hard drive to police.

On the computer were pictures of a nude student Cole had taken off another student's computer, which he had access to as part of his job.

The laptop was turned over to police, who never obtained a warrant believing the school had the authority to turn it over.

"Computers that are reasonably used for personal purposes -- whether found in the workplace or the home -- contain information that is meaningful, intimate, and touching on the user's biographical core," Justice Morris Fish wrote in the 6-1 decision.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 20, 2012 A30

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