Older phones shouldn't get same protection from searches as smartphones: Crown

VANCOUVER - A Crown lawyer has told the B.C. Court of Appeal that older, less-sophisticated cellphones don't deserve the same warrant search protection as newer smartphones.

A case involving a 2006 kidnapping is examining the issue of when police should be allowed to search the contents of a cellphone after a suspect is arrested.

A defence lawyer for Rajan Singh Mann, who was convicted in 2012 for an armed kidnapping, has told the court that police should have obtained a warrant before looking through the contents of two BlackBerry cellphones.

But Crown lawyer Gail Banning says recent court judgments that have concluded smartphones deserve the same protections as personal computers have dealt with advanced, modern-day devices capable of storing massive amounts of data.

In contrast, Banning says the cellphones in the current case were older, 2004- and 2005-model BlackBerrys with limited storage capacity, no camera, and only rudimentary Internet connectivity.

Banning says older cellphones like those should be treated like briefcases, which police would be able to search if they were seized from a suspect during an arrest.

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