The Missing Persons Act came into effect in Alberta this September. The new law grants police access to personal information such as cell phone records, computer records, television records, education files, health files, employment history and financial records when they are investigating a missing persons case.
The justification behind the new Alberta law is that the personal information could be very helpful to police in finding clues to locate the missing person. To obtain the information, police would require permission from the local courts. Whether there is reason to believe a crime has been committed is not a factor in granting police access to the personal information.
Critics are arguing that while they see how this information could be very helpful in solving missing persons cases, they think the Missing Persons Act crosses the lines of privacy and personal safety of the victim. However, police will not be allowed to divulge this personal information with anyone not directly working on the case. In particular, if the missing person is located and determined to be escaping an abusive spouse or relative, no information about there whereabouts will be released by police.
The Alberta Missing Persons Act will be reviewed in five years to determine if any revisions need to be made.
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