Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Big Brother

Here's a slippery slope if I every heard one:
Privacy watchdogs are crying foul over an attempt by the Public Safety Canada to come up with legislation that will force telecommunications providers to cough up personal information about their clients to authorities...

Due to a current lack of legislation, the document states, some telecommunications companies choose to provide customer information to police when it is requested, while others demand a court order before releasing any information at all.

The Public Safety Department hopes to establish new legislation to ensure police are granted the information on demand.

Funny thing about a court order, it ensures reasonable grounds and accountability. What exactly is wrong with the current system?:
the government hopes to gain access to customers' names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, IP addresses and cellphone data...

But Geist said the current system is working fine, and there's no evidence that police actually need greater access to such information without having to go through the courts to get it.

"We've been living in an online environment for a number of years, close to a decade, and there's been scant evidence to suggest the current system, whereby law enforcement does have to obtain in most instances a court order, has really created any problems from an investigative perspective."

Philippa Lawson, of the Canadian Internet Public Policy Interest Centre, agrees the status quo is serving police well.

"We know from history that the more powers you give law enforcement agencies and the government, the most potential there is for abuse," she said.

Geist said that a customer's name and address can serve as a "lynchpin" for other personal data. For example, if police can link an IP address to a specific person, they suddenly gain the ability to track their activity on the Internet.

"From an individual Canadian's perspective, their privacy and their concerns about how that information could be used and conceivably misused, suggests that it's important to ensure we do have some oversights in place," Geist said.

There are already mechanisms in place to allow access, what exactly is the justification in opening the door for abuse of personal freedoms? I guess Day doesn't want those "activist judges" getting in the way of seamless impunity. Scary stuff, and who exactly decides the parameters for what justifies "tracking" someone online?

More here and here.

5 comments:

900 ft Jesus said...

yeah, I pitched a fit over this one this morning. We need to ask ourselves why Safety canada feels it needs this unfettered access, access without even notifying us we are being monitored. I don't buy "it's for the cops" bit. Court orders are in place for that, so it really smells of them wanting to watch us without us knowing we are being watched, among other things.

Bleatmop said...

I agree that this is a frightening development. All Canadians that value their freedom and privacy should be against this move and should write to their MP's expressing their distaste. I know I intend to. Good post!

Gayle said...

What is wrong with a police state?

Are you trying to say you actually value civil liberties???

Miles Lunn said...

Bad idea. I have always believed it is better to give people too many rights than too few. That is why one is presumed innocent until proven guilty and the burden of proof to convict someone is quite high even though this means many guilty people may go free. Likewise I think acquring any personal information should only be done if there is a warrant and one can show probable cause.

I think what Ben Franklin said 200 years ago "those who would give up a little liberty for more security deserve neither liberty nor security" is still relevant today. In fact if the Conservatives are so pro-American, maybe they should follow the ideals the US stands for rather than what has become under Bush (which is about as far away as one can get from what the founding fathers envisioned).

900 ft Jesus said...

http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2007/09/14/tech-privacy-warrant.html

from CBC today. Notice how "police" won't have access without warrants. What about Safety Canada and other agencies? Same problem, different spin.