LHC declares extracting cellphone data sans person’s nod illegal

F.P. Report

LAHORE: In an important decision, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Saturday declared access to phone data of an individual, including that of a suspect, without his or her permission illegal and a violation of article 13 of the constitution.

Pronouncing a decision on the criminal appeal filed by Rehmatullah, who was serving a 10-year prison term for having links with a terrorist organization and spreading prohibited material, a two-member bench of the LHC, comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Muhammad Amjad Rafiq, set Rehmatullah free. In its decision, the LHC said that getting access to somebody’s phone data was a violation of an individual’s privacy. The court further said that if a person, including a suspect, was not ready to share his or her cellphone data with the law-enforcement agencies (LEAs), then permission could be sought from a magistrate for that.

Furthermore, it said, that in these modern times, a person could contact members of his or her family and loved ones through audio and video. “Our phones are nothing less than our homes. The privacy of our family enjoys constitutional protection,” the court said, adding, “A person sees YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and visits other social media platforms which is not prohibited at all. The LHC went on to say that in case there was a suspicion that the data stored in somebody’s cellphone could lead to the arrest of a criminal, then it could be checked by bringing it to the knowledge of the court within 24 hours. (PPI)