Tories seek to widen police access online

Legislation would give law enforcement easier access to Internet data, personal details of subscribers without need for a warrent

Matt Hartley and Omar El Akkad

From Friday's Globe and Mail,

Police will have sweeping new powers to collect information about Canadian Internet users without a warrant, and activate tracking devices in their cellphones and cars under legislation proposed by the Conservative government yesterday and criticized by privacy advocates as excessive.

If the government's latest shot at introducing “lawful access” legislation – something successive governments have tried but failed to do for the past decade or so – succeeds, Internet service providers will also be forced to install monitoring technology on their servers to keep track of their users' online activities.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan yesterday introduced two bills – the Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act and the Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act – just before the House of Commons empties out until the fall session.

“We must provide our law enforcement with the tools they need to keep our communities safe,” Mr. Van Loan said. “This is a great day for the victims and their families who have been long calling for these legislative changes, and those who work tirelessly every day to ensure that when there is a threat to safety, police can intervene quickly.”

However, critics point out that the onus is on law enforcement agencies to explain why they need these new powers.

“Nobody wants to create roadblocks for law enforcement, but there has been no evidence put forward that the current system has created any barriers, and I think it raises real concern where there is potential for abuse,” said Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa who holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce law. “That's why you have court oversight.”

Mr. Geist noted that some major police investigations in the past few years – including the arrest of 18 Toronto-area terrorism suspects in 2006 – was very much dependent on the Internet, and progressed even under current legislation.

The bills introduced by the Conservative government yesterday are in some ways an evolution of an issue that began about a decade ago, when the Liberals tried to introduce similar legislation.

In 2007, public safety minister Stockwell Day said the government would not force ISPs to hand over personal information about their users to police without a warrant. Yesterday, though, the government proposed exactly that.

Liberal MP and public safety critic Mark Holland said police have to be able to keep up with criminals using new technologies, but added that any legislation must also weigh the impact on Canadians' privacy.

“It can't be used ... to randomly go through people's Internet and e-mail records trolling for things,” he said. “That raises all kinds of concerns.”

But the proposed legislation appears to have at least one loophole. Because the cost of installing tracking technology is so high, large ISPs will be required to do it, but smaller service providers will get three years to comply fully. Therefore, for years to come, some ISPs will be able to monitor their customers' activities and some won't.

An RCMP spokesman declined to speak about the announcement, saying the force doesn't comment on proposed legislation. Chief Constable Jim Chu of the Vancouver Police Department issued a statement praising the bills. “We are pleased that this new legislation modernizes the law so that it keeps pace with the advances in telecommunications technologies,” he said. “The laws being updated were originally written in the era of rotary phones.”

A Bell spokeswoman said yesterday that the company has a long history of working with law enforcement agencies, but added that the government should recognize “the unique and disproportionate burden and responsibility placed on the telecom sector as a subset of the larger business community,” and that the costs of policing shouldn't be shifted entirely to one industry. “Lawful access requirements should not stifle innovation, or unduly impede or delay our roll-out of new products and services, including extension of voice and broadband service to underserved communities,” she said.




Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre

6/19/2009 12:36:51 AM
There is nothing more despicable than "abuse of power", its the adult form of bullying, its social bullying, its taking advantage of absolute power and flagrantly abusing it.

We all have responsibilities, ethical and moral responsibilities to others and especially to others to whom we have a fiduciary duty.

The worst , the very worst most vile people in society are not the criminals in jail, its those in positions of power and authority who flagrantly abuse that power.

The Tories, have a simple minded game plan of regularly making "tough on crime" announcements that "trample rights" or keep pushing the thin edge of the wedge into fundamental legal rights.

The Tories don't seem to have a clue about Legal Reasoning, and it begs the question, just where the hell does Mr. Harper get his legal advice?

This is another of the Tories hair brained poorly thought out illogical ideas doomed not necessarily for destruction, it has a horrible chance of success, unless the opposition use their intelligence and seek out objective legal opinions on the prejudice of such legislation versus the probative benefits to society.

Police and those in positions of power will simply fabricate any outragious allegation to justify an invasion of privacy to go on a fishing expedition that could well have nothing more than a political motivation behind it.

More dangerous, is that these sorts of flagrant abuse of power will become a weapon to be used against anyone who is a target of their venom.

Mr. Harper should spend more time dealing with the very well known very corrupt examples of the judiciary such as the Dishonourable Justice Denis Power and Allan Sheffield of the Ottawa Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Their draconian decisions are similar examples of flagrant abuses of judicial power and are of the public record.

Mr. Harper, these are very serious allegations, just ask ANY experienced lawyer with a promise not to quote or reveal the source.

6/19/2009 12:57:36 AM

Tragically, most Canadians will support this idea, and that's probably why the conservatives decided to "bring it on", its just another standard weapon in their tool box of dirty tricks that treats Canadians as mushrooms, and unfortunately most of the public are exactly that.

Now, we humbly ask the leaders of the opposition, to see this proposed legislation exactly for what it is, just another step to further entrench Canada as a Police State, a corrupt police state in a corrupt country that has selective vision and hearing, and does not want to see or hear anything that is politically incorrect.

The Tories may have, just launched the next reason why we need a change in government. The tragic problem is, power is addictive, absolute power is what true politicians crave, and a police state is the ultimate way for a politician to get their rocks off.

CANADA is a Police State NOW, men have no legal rights.

You would assume that one has the right to a trial when accused of a trial.

Not in Ottawa. Not with Justice Allan Sheffield, this vile example of judicial abuse of power, makes private arrangments to hold hearings for "summary judgment", he makes orders for "fines" to be payable personally , thats right, and if you don't pay the other party "the fine", you go to jail.

In law, its obviously illegal to do indirectly what is prohibited indirectly.

In Ottawa, Ontario Superior Court judges Habitually, Routinely, Flagrantly, ABUSE their powers to totally destroy lives for no apparent reason other than a pathological desire to create destruction.


6/19/2009 1:11:16 AM

Canada treats men as second class citizens who do not have any legal rights. The Tories talk about "law and order" while the entire country is a cess pool of hatred towards men.

Wire taps are not going to solve the very worst crimes in society, these are crimes committed by those in power and authority in Canada.

MR. HARPER, kindly start talking to the legal profession in Ottawa and get some Free legal advice on how you , as prime minister can make an improvement, perhaps stop the backward downward slide into a police state and, an underbelly of the judiciary destroying the Rule of Law in Canada.

Mr. Harper, your proposed legislation is that of a very sick mind, its from a mind hell bent on furthering Canada's slide even deeper into that of a police state, not that you have the courage to take off your tori shades and see the real light of day.

Now, will the real politicians who have an ounce of legal reasoning please stand up?
If you know any lawyer in Ottawa, ask them WHO is the "worst of the worst judges in Ottawa". Or, ask, who is the most corrupt judge in Ottawa?

Mr. Harper, IF you have any genuine concerns about the Justice System, or the "Rule of Law" perhaps you can start by cleaning up the very corrupt Judiciary, the greatest insults to justice called, Ontario Superior Court Judges, especially the underbelly.



If you had a horrible accident at birth, you might just have been born with testicles, which in Canada makes you an unconvicted criminal without legal rights based solely on your gender.

Canada is allready a Corrupt society where men are deemed criminals unless they can prove otherwise to a court that has allready preformed a guilty verdict and does not see any need for the necessity of a trial.

Warrentless phone intercepts are just another example of the same sheer abuse of absolute power that is slowly but surely destroying what ever Rule of Law that was here a year ago.

Its getting worse every day and unfortunately, our politicians seem addicted to more power and further drive Canada into a police state.



No, you are not having a Night Mare, you are aware, reading how Canada is a police state and all Canadians are sinking into a state increasingly devoid of the Rule of Law.

Hello? Mr. Harper? Hello?

When I drive past 24 Sussex I feel sick to know that we have a leader who really does not give a dam about law and wants to further destroy the allready tarnished Rule of Law in Canada, - a corrupt society where men have no legal rights, unless you want to pretend that you aren't really a male and, that you dont possess a pair of balls.


Oops, sorry for the typo, its getting late....I'll try again...

My god, Doesn't Rob Nicholson look scary.

The caption should read,

"I'm god and if YOU are male, you are going to jail"

. :)