Quebec Superior Court Orders That Corporations Must Provide Information to Police – Even Where Data Stored Abroad
5 minute read
The Quebec Superior Court (“the Court”) has ruled that the social media company Snap Inc. (“Snapchat”), which runs the social media application Snapchat must provide subscriber information, transmission data and location data to the Montreal Police Department (MPD). The decision has important implications for companies operating in Canada and provides insight into the need to balance privacy and data protection with the obligation to cooperate with Canadian law enforcement.
The decision in Re SPVM arose in a criminal investigation into a Quebec resident who allegedly used a Snapchat account in connection to child pornography charges. The Criminal Code (“the Code”) allows law enforcement agencies to seek various court approved production orders to compel third parties to produce information in aid of a criminal investigation. For example, a company may be court ordered to produce documents, general data, transmission data, tracking data or financial data in their possession.
The MPD sought a production order under section 487.014 of the Code to compel the American company Snapchat to provide information stored in California. Notably, the requested information was not accessible from Canada.
The Court concluded that to authorize a production order under the Code requires only that:
- The company in possession or control of the information be located in Canada; or
- The person being investigated or the information that is the subject of the production order, and the person in possession or control of the information, have a real and substantial connection to Canada.
The Court’s decision has four main takeaways of interest for corporations offering services in Canada.
1. Corporations operating in Canada may be ordered to provide information to law enforcement