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When Warrants are Gone, Where is the Accountability?

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews points to where our individual rights are heading. Blair Gable/Reuters

The federal Conservative government in Canada is set to pass lawful access legislation that will allow law enforcement (or any government agency) to, without warrant and without any legal precedent, to force ISP and telecoms to provide personal information on any Canadian. This is not limited to a computer, but also extends to mobile devices. This is a cost that has to be absorbed by the providers as they install monitoring technology which at all appearances will be passed on to all consumers. Effectively forcing you to pay to be watched – paying for real-time surveillance. In fact, you not even know as as a “court may bar them from informing subscribers that they have been subject to surveillance or information disclosures” *.

“This type of legislation brings us one step closer to George Orwell’s dystopian vision of a totalitarian state that keeps its citizens under constant surveillance. Yet there is no evidence the new law will achieve its public policy objectives.” – The National Post**

Public Saftey Canada has gone against it’s own Minister, Vic Toews, in released internal emails that there is objection to some of the key arguments. Indeed, even the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has said that with current laws in place, this is not required. The CACP however has not been entirely non-complicit in this. In an email released to it’s members, the CACP stated:

“One criticism directed from civil liberties and privacy advocates is that the burden by the police to demonstrate the need this legislation has not been met. While we are confident we have made our case to government, it remains important that we make our case to Canadians as a whole. This is especially important in the area of access to subscriber information or what is commonly referred to as “Customer Name and Address” (CNA). The Bill will contain a provision which permits certain designated police officers to compel Internet Service Providers and Telecommunications Service Providers to produce this type of information upon demand and without a warrant.“***

Serious consideration to this bill’s infringement on individual rights and freedom’s is sure to be challenged if passed. On the other hand as the federal government lambastes countries that hinder rights, do any of those who wrote the bill really think there is not a way around this? Just look at the Arab Spring in Libya and Egypt and now Syria to see that where there is censorship and monitoring, there is gateways to get around this issue.

One way to get your disagreement of this infringement on your civil rights (is there ever a good time to not allow for due process and warrants?) is to let your MP know. Openmedia.ca has created an easy way to let your government representative know.****

Read More

* National Post Opinion
** Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lawful Access…
*** Financial Post: Police ‘scrambling’ to justify lawful access laws

****Dear Ottawa: Stop Online Spying