The ARQ obtained a search warrant for searching an Uber Canada office in Montreal. In order to be granted the search warrant, the ARQ employee laying the information was required to have reasonable grounds to believe that Uber Canada was committing an offence. The search warrant was granted inter alia on the grounds that Uber Canada was aiding the drivers in committing the offence of wilfully evading the collection of QST - by virtue of its system for collecting the customer fares (through the customers’ credit cards) not treating those fares as being subject to QST (or GST).
On the search, 74 smart phones and 14 computers, which included personal information, were seized. Uber Canada argued before Cournoyer JCS (as quoted at para. 242) that "the warrants should have included a computer search protocol," and that:
A valid search warrant cannot authorize, on the one hand, the making of “mirror images” or the taking of computers and smartphones in order to, on the other hand, seize only information that may afford evidence of technical tax offences.
Cournoyer JCS quoted (at para. 266) a statement of Professor Kerr in the U.S. that:
The massive storage capacity of computers, combined with the ease of hiding evidence inside them, ensures that computer searches usually take a lot of time. If the government must find a needle in the haystack, and searching the haystack may take weeks or longer, the government must choose among three unhappy choices. First, they can seize the entire haystack for subsequent searching off-site. Second, they can bring a few officers to the haystack and have them stay there for a few weeks as they search through it. Or third, they can simply accept that haystack warrants cannot be executed because haystack searches are too time-consuming. Among these three choices, the first is the least bad option.
and then stated (at para. 282, TI translation) that:
The Court shares the analysis of Professor Kerr that there does not exist any realistic alternative to the complete seizure of the digital devices and their subsequent search - which inevitably will lead to access to information which was not within the scope of the search warrant.
When the search of the Uber Canada office commenced, the computers were promptly rebooted remotely from San Francisco. He stated (at para. 228) that "this conduct, which bears the attributes of an attempted obstruction of justice, permitted the judge to conclude that Uber wished to hide proof of its illegal conduct from the attention of the tax authorities."