Warrant Required to Search Computer Content

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The Supreme Court on November 7th released their decision R. v Vu, stating that search warrants for specific premises must explicitly grant law enforcement officials the right to search content on computers. Computers, unlike cupboard or drawers on a premises, hold virtually a “universe of information” about individuals; information that even individuals themselves may not be aware of, thus giving rise to privacy protections under section 8 of the Charter.

Interestingly, the Court found the charter-infringing conduct not to be egregious and allowed the evidence to be admitted. Thus, strategically, businesses and individuals may wish to consider:

  1. Keeping electronic records on the computer rather than in paper form, thus requiring a judge to weigh whether a more explicit and invasive search-warrant is necessary; and
  2. Encrypting all harddrive data. R v. Vu is an example of how non-egregious charter violations have been overlooked by the court. Thus, even if law enforcement officials erroneously searched your computer, they would not be able to easily decipher the information contained therein.

Toronto Computer Laws Group: Legal Issues Facing Startup Companies

Posted on by Sam Posted in Business, Law | Comments Off on Toronto Computer Laws Group: Legal Issues Facing Startup Companies

On September 26th, 2013, the Toronto Computer Laws Group hosted a session whether three experts (Chad Bayne from Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt; Matthew Leibowitz with Plazacorp Ventures, and Anthony De Fezekas from Miller Thompson LLP) discussed legal issues facing Start-Up companies. The panel shared the following:

1.  Intellectual Property (IP)

One of the primary and first issues entrepreneurs need to consider is ownership of IP.  All work done by employees should be clearly assigned to the company, even if the employees works for free. Not owning your IP could effectively render your startup unacquirable at a later date.

2. Relationship of Founders

Entrepreneurs need to be clear on who exactly is the founder, and who is not?  After that, how much of the company does each founder own? Do founders earn shares today, or over time? Do each founders get credit for kickstarting the venture over the last 2 years in their basement?  How are founders kicked out? These are all essential questions. Startups are close knit environments where when founders don’t get along, and one of the founders get kicked out, a legal dispute often ensues.

3.  Legal Budget – Focus on the Essentials

Legal costs for a startup doesn’t have to be expensive.  Often what a startup actually needs is different form what a startup thinks its needs. To get a company off the ground, a startup will need a lawyer to assist with:

  • Shareholder Agreements
  • Advice on Intellectual Property
  • Terms of Service and a Privacy Policy
  • Possibly Minute Books

With these legal documents in place, the startup should focus on your business until the  first customer comes knocking. Until then, it’s noses to the grindstone!