New surveillance bill introduced

Posted by admin on Nov 15th, 2005

New surveillance bill introduced, CBC News

The federal government has introduced a bill to make it easier for police and CSIS to monitor private cellphone conversations and communication on the internet. The Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act, if passed, would require internet companies to give the police confidential information on their subscribers. The information, which includes the person’s name, address and telephone or cellphone number, would allow the police or CSIS to identify the location of a person’s computer.

The bill would also require cellphone and internet companies to add surveillance hardware and software to their networks.

According to Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan, it’s simply an update of Canada’s 30-year-old telephone wiretap bill.

“It’s my obligation to ensure that we have the legislative framework in place so key law enforcement agencies can do their jobs,” McLellan said.

She said similar laws have recently been passed in Britain, the U.S. and Australia.

“We are well behind other nations who we regularly compare ourselves for our police forces to intercept certain kinds of technologies.”

Since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, intelligence agencies have become increasingly concerned that al-Qaeda-linked extremists are using the internet as a training and recruiting tool.

Canadian security authorities say these days terrorists and criminals are far more likely to communicate by e-mail than on a conventional telephone. But police say extremists have gained the upper hand because Canada’s cellphone and internet companies haven’t built new surveillance technology into their networks.

Rick Broadhead, an author who follows internet issues, said an updated equivalent of the old wiretap law is needed.

“There’s no question that criminals, terrorists, anyone who’s committing an illegal act will use the internet where possible to try and hide.”

But he said privacy advocates have a legitimate concern that police officers or intelligence agents could abuse the law by accessing information on someone that had nothing to do with a legitimate investigation.

However, McLellan said that just like in the old wiretap days, police investigators will have to get the approval of a judge before they can have access.

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