Saturday, August 20, 2005

Can the U.S. be far behind?

I fear that the U.S. is probably not far behind, if it is not already there. It will be interesting to see the perspective on this that my Canadian friend and fellow Ice Palace Contributor Nauti By Nature will have when he returns from his world travels:
Global National with files from Canadian Press

Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler. (Brian Gavriloff, CanWest News Service)

Friday, August 19, 2005

Courtesy stock.xchng
Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler. (Brian Gavriloff, CanWest News Service)

Justice Minister Irwin Cotler says legislation will be introduced this fall to give police and national security agencies new powers to eavesdrop on cellphone calls and monitor the Internet activities of Canadians.

The bill would allow police to demand that Internet service providers hand over a wide range of information on the surfing habits of individuals, including online pseudonyms, and whether someone possesses a mischief-making computer virus, according to a draft outline of the bill provided to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

After a speech to a police association in Ottawa, Cotler confirmed that his government will soon bring "lawful access" legislation to cabinet for final approval before it is introduced in the House of Commons.

The minister said the law is needed to replace outdated surveillance laws that were written before the arrival of cellphones and e-mail.

"We will put law-enforcement people on the same level playing field as criminals and terrorists in the matter of using technology and accessing technology," Cotler said.

"At the same time we will protect the civil libertarian concerns that are involved such as privacy and information surveillance," he said.

Police groups say they are not asking for any new powers but rather the ability to continue their regular investigative activities in the digital age. Clayton Pecknold of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police said police are working with laws originally written in 1974.

But critics who have been involved in private consultations with the government are expressing concern that the proposed law goes too far and could ultimately be used to nab Canadians as they engage in relatively minor offences such as illegally downloading music, movies and computer software. (...Read the rest here).