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Ontario judge to hear Charter challenge on privacy issues raised by Telus, Rogers

TORONTO - An Ontario judge has agreed to hear a Charter of Rights challenge brought by telecommunication giants Telus and Rogers after police requested them to release cellphone information about 40,000 to 50,000 customers as part of an investigation in the Toronto area.

Justice John Sproat says that the case has highlighted important issues about privacy and law enforcement that should be challenged in open court, even though Peel regional police attempted to withdraw their original requests.

His ruling was dated July 16 but released Friday.

Lawyers for Telus and Rogers said the companies have responded to thousands of court orders requiring cell records but said that the "tower dumps" requested by Peel regional police force in this situation were too broad.

The Crown countered that the Charter challenge should be dropped because police had withdrawn their original request for information from 21 cell towers and were willing to ask for information from fewer towers.

But the judge agreed to hear arguments, saying privacy is of obvious importance to Canadians and noting that lawyers for Rogers and Telus are in a position to argue Charter issues that may not be evident to the general public.

Sproat said he would set dates for hearings at a later time.

The Canadian Press

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