Data “breach” update

Search warrant sealed

Also: buy a razor!

Your correspondent was surprised to learn today the warrant used to search the family home of a 19-year-old in connection with the alleged breach of Nova Scotia’s access to information website has been — literally — sealed.

scales of justice

According to Halifax police, the search
was executed April 11 at a Connaught Ave. home where the 19-year-old lives with his parents. The son was arrested for “unauthorized use of a computer” but has not been charged.

Search warrants become public documents once they have been executed and a report has been made to the issuing judge. It’s part of the public scrutiny that the courts actually welcome.

But police can apply to have a warrant, and the associated documents, sealed, sometimes forever. The term is literal: all the relevant documents are placed in a “packet” which is then, yep, sealed.

A police spokesperson said it was done in this case to “protect the integrity of the investigation”.

For detail-lovers, here’s an excerpt from the Criminal Code’s Section 487.3, which Turpin Labs’ legal division believes is relevant to the case:

A judge can seal a warrant …

(a) if disclosure of the information would:

(i) compromise the identity of a confidential informant,
(ii) compromise the nature and extent of an ongoing investigation,
(iii) endanger a person engaged in particular intelligence-gathering techniques and thereby prejudice future investigations in which similar techniques would be used, or
(iv) prejudice the interests of an innocent person; and

(b) for any other sufficient reason.

NOTE 1: Section 487.3 is silent on the issue of provincial governments creating a circus by incorrectly saying they had withheld news of the “breach” at the suggestion of the police.

NOTE 2: To the clerks at Hfx provincial court — why didn’t you simply tell me the documents had been sealed instead of putting me through hoops?

NOTE 3: Visual advice for fugitives hoping to evade detection by Halifax Regional Police — dudes, buy a razor! Scroll down to the photos to see why.

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