People love their phones. Phones now accompany us pretty much wherever we go, whatever we do. People use their phones in church, in restaurants, at the theatre, and, apparently, while committing crimes. And our phones are leaving a trail behind us.
Police know this. They also know that records are created every time our phones connect to cell towers to send and receive calls, SMS messages, or data. Every one of those records indicates that a phone (and, implicitly, the person carrying it) was in range of a particular cell tower, at a particular time.
This could be useful information if, say, one wanted to identify the person (or people) responsible for a string of jewelry store robberies.
The method will be familiar to many from movies and T.V. shows: all you need to do is to gather a list of every single person who was near each of the locations of interest at the time of interest and analyze the patterns. And, hey, that cell tower data can provide that list….
But is it legal?
Lawyers are not required to collect client financial information, prepare reports on that information and submit to warrantless searches from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act...
We reported earlier this year about the perils of bad governance in the case of the Toronto Humane Society. The non-profit organization faced a raid and subsequent investigation after complaints of serious mistreatment of animals, overcrowding, rampant illness and disease, disgusting workplace conditions and generally poor management. The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals removed animals from the premises, confiscated documents, arrested the president and senior management and charged them with animal cruelty and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, and discharged the board of directors and charged them with "non-criminal" animal cruelty.
Established in 1995, First Reference Inc. (known as La Référence in Quebec) provides Canadian organizations of any size with practical and authoritative resources to help ensure compliance.