Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Canada: New bill would allow police eavesdropping on individuals without warrants

   The Canadian Conservative government always depicts itself as on the moral high ground when it comes to legislation on crime. The new bill has the grandiose title: Protecting children from internet predators act. Only in the title are children and predators mentioned. In fact according to the CBC article the title appears to have been changed when the bill was sent to the printers.
   When the bill was introduced in the commons by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews the same theme was adopted of protecting children from internet pornography. Toews said: "I believe that unless this legislation is adopted, this will in fact allow child pornographers and organized crime to flourish,"
   The bill contains provisions that would require internet providers to give police information about subscribers. Earlier bills also demanded such information but the difference in this bill is that there is no warrant from a judge required. The police need not prove to anyone that the snooping is justified
   Police could demand names, phone numbers, and IP addresses. The bill could also force internet providers to allow a back door by which communications would be available to police. There is to be an internal audit of warrantless requests and a provision for review but only after five years.
   Toews received a great deal of flack for his comments that those who were critical of the bill   "can stand with the child pornographers." In spite of the Conservative hard line on crime they were on the wrong side of most police organisations when they voted to repeal the Canadian gun registry legislation. To be fair this legislation certainly had its faults. Now it seems that Conservative government is mending its relationship with the cops. After noting that it was no part of its business to comment on legislation the RCMP did exactly that: "While it is not the RCMP’s role to comment on pending legislation, the organization believes police need modern tools and resources to respond to the evolving nature of national and transnational crime, including terrorism,"
  Supporters of the bill note that in many respects the provisions bring Canada in line with most other economically advanced  countries such as the U.S. U.K. Australia, and Germany. In particular other countries already demand internet providers provide back door access for law enforcement agencies so they can snoop on suspects. Only Canada and Japan of the G8 remain behind in the period before the age of the progressive cyber snoop state.
    If a CBC poll and comments to be found here are any indication the vast majority of Canadians do not support the bill.Over 90 per cent disapproved of the bill and only 8 per cent were in favor at the time I wrote the article. You can still go and make your views known. For more see the entire CBC article.

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