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Canada judge rules emergency wiretap law unconstitutional

[JURIST] British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Barry Davies has ruled [excerpts] that Section 184.4 of the Canadian Criminal Code [text], which allows law enforcement officers to electronically intercept private communications in "exceptional circumstances" without court authorization, is unconstitutional because it violates "the fundamental freedom to be free from unreasonable search and seizure" protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text]. Davies' ruling, made public Monday, can be appealed to the province's Court of Appeal. Section 184.4 allows police to intercept communications without a judge's approval in certain emergency situations, but Davies said that the provision violates the rights of people whose communications have been intercepted.

Section 184.4 is used across Canada, and Davies stayed his ruling for 18 months to allow the Canadian parliament time to amend the law. Canwest News Service has more.

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