The government fights for its "lawful access"

Across our newspaper chain today, I argue that the C-30, the government’s so-called “lawful access” legislation, is bad, that, “there is no excuse for this kind of intrusion on the privacy rights of Canadians and certainly not one from a government that says it champions the idea that the federal government ought to respect individual liberties and rights.” [Read my full column on this]

Last night, perhaps seeing that there were a great number of pundits criticizing this bill [here’s the Post‘s Matt Hartley, for one], one of the aides for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews circulated three examples that it believes show the need for the new powers to be given to police, CSIS, and the Competition Bureau in C-30. It doesn’t change my assessment of the bill — no example is given here to support the idea in C-30 and Competition Bureau bureaucrats or spies from CSIS ought to be able to get subscriber information without a warrant –  but here it is for your consideration:

  • In December 2010, New Brunswick RCMP began to investigate the distribution of child pornography.  Police suspected an individual who was using a telecommunications service provider who had historically not shared information with police.  As a result, local police applied for a court order.  There was a substantial delay and by this time the case had gone cold. Several months later, the suspect resumed his online activity.  This time the TSP was cooperative with police requests.  The suspect was charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.  Furthermore, it was discovered that this suspect was molesting two young boys to create child pornography.  Had Bill C-30 been in force, this atrocity would have ended months sooner.
  • In 2007, the RCMP assisted with an international investigation in which suspects located in Canada were attempting to defraud American corporations of approximately $100 million. The investigation required police to find the individuals who were committing these fraudulent activities.  The suspects were constantly on the move and police needed the immediate support of the TSPs to determine the location of these networks.  However, the service providers would not provide police with the basic subscriber information they needed.  Because of the lack of cooperation from the TSPs, it took eight full-time technical investigators five days to finally locate and arrest the suspects. The suspects successfully defrauded victims of $15 million.  Had police been provided the information when it was requested, the value of the fraud would have been reduced considerably and police resources would have been used more effectively.
  • A child was abducted in British Columbia in 2011.  An amber alert was broadcast and, fortunately, the suspect returned the child. However, the suspect was not apprehended and his location remained unknown. Through further investigation, police obtained an IP address associated with the suspect. Police contacted the TSP directly and were advised that it was against policy to provide subscriber information related to an IP address without a Production Order. Police advised the TSP that the suspect had already abducted one child and that other children could possibly be at risk. The TSP decided to provide the information and the suspect was located and apprehended less than 24 hours after police received the information.


6 thoughts on “The government fights for its "lawful access"”

  1. One word. Chretien.

    Need I remind anyone of the days when the RCMP were Chretiens personal enforcers, literally bullying, pepper spraying and hounding anyone who got in Chretiens way. Now imagine if he could have ordered the RCMP to monitor all online activity of any potential foe, without their knowledge or need for a warrant. I don’t know about you, but that scares the hell out of me.

  2. Re: your article
    On the gun registry:
    “… forcing law-abiding gun owners to tell the government what kinds of guns they have is an affront to privacy and liberty”
    That was only one of the reasons. The matter of cost & effectiveness were the primary ones. When it was introduced by the Liberal government, they said it would cost $2 million. Everyone should know by now that the cost actually ballooned to close to $2 billion. Now THAT is BIG government.
    With the gun registry, every long-gun owner was assumed to be a potential criminal.
    With the “lawful access” bill, every internet user is assumed to be a potential target of law enforcement authorities.
    Both assumptions are incorrect. Or as someone called Eugene Lewis Fordsworthe reputedly said: “Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups.”

    On the census:
    “… the Conservatives changed the rules around the census.”
    To be accurate … change was made only to the long-form census. Rather than being coerced under pain of penalty, citizens are now asked to voluntarily provide more specific information about themselves. That freedom of choice appeals to those on either side of the political spectrum who prize individual choice.
    BTW, contrary to the dire predictions of those opposed to the change, 69.3% of households completed the National Household Survey. Mind you, those same opponents are now saying they doubt the validity of the information provided … because the validity would be assured if obtained under coercion, right?

    On the proposed legislation:
    “… new legislation which would give police, spies and federal bureaucrats from the Competition Bureau the power to collect information about the digital services Canadians use without first obtaining a warrant from a judge. …”
    As I said in a previous thread, whose information would be sought? Yours? Mine? Are either of us suspects in some kind of illegal activity which requires proof mined from those digital services? Don’t law enforcement authorities need to have probable cause before seeking that kind of information? The way you and other opponents are painting this bill, you’re suggesting that those authorities would randomly select people like you and me to place under their scrutiny.

    Which brings me to my last point. Whether it’s on the right or on the left, the current propensity to always cast our institutions — be it government, law enforcement, or the political class — in a negative & threatening light does nothing to improve our society. Functioning societies must be based on a modicum of trust. Resorting to the kind of intemperate language used by the players on either side of the debate does nothing but erode the social contract, the foundation of a functioning society.

  3. But do you have recomendations on what we can do to fight this bill? I suppose writing a letter to our local MP? ? ? I think I signed a petition for this bill a few months ago, unless it was a simular law but different bill that I signed the petition for but I am sure it is this bill…. Anyways if you can make suggestions on ways we can fight this that would be helpful…

  4. With all the racket, remember…according to the new act, the information requested would have to be that, that up to now, required a search warrant. So…no search warrant would have ever been issued for a fishing expedition…there would have to be the usual “reasonable and probable grounds to believe that …. [a crime]” And, the warrant would aid the police in collecting evidence. Sounds good to me…fish my accounts all they like…they’d be lucky to find a minnow. Let’s be reasoonable…after all the hoopla, innocent people have no need to fear investigative procedures.

  5. Re: Clayton..
    Anyone trusting the govbernment or any of its agencies including (or especially) the police probably deserves to lose their rights, liberties and freedoms! Unfortunately, once their rights, liberties and freedoms have been removed and are gone – so are mine!
    A man being terrorized with death threats and fire bombing of his house get arrested by the police for firearm violations – the right to protect yourself and your home gone!
    A stupid man posts pictures of himself with a handgun in a private residence and not even his own gun has a 3 year minimum sentence imposed (and over-rule by judge) for firearm violations – loss of right to act stupid in a private residence and loss of liberty under the criminal Code.
    A man is arrested, handcuffed and taken to jail because his 4 year old draws a picture of her daddy defending their home from bad guys and monsters. His home is searched without warrant and his family terrorized by the police but no gun is found and no laws broken – just astromomical over-reaction by school staff and police – loss of rights to due process, liberty while under (false) arrest, warrantless search and subjected to police stupidty, humiliation and indignaty under the Firearms Act.
    Vancouver police take EIGHT MONTHS to bring Stanley Cup rioters to court (and still ongoing) even though they were all self-incriminated with photos and videos live at the scene. Lost of right to a speedy trial but ask yourself why it takes police 8 months to investigate a self-incriminated rioter but the man arrested because of a crayon drawing by his 4 year old wasn’t even allowed a 1 or 2 hour investigation before he was arrested, handcuff and hauled of to jail!!
    Police Chief found guilty of at least 5 violations of the Firearms Act (one with a minimum 3 year sentence) but isn’t charged by any them and gets off with little more than a scolding! Lost to ordinary citizens – equal treatment under the law. But what else is new – those in charge of the “justice” system are the most frequent and worse offenders!
    There are many other example – these are just a few of the most recent in the news. So Clayton feel free to have the govt and its agencies invade your rights – just don’t be so willing to give up mine while your at it!!

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