Update on Canadian Internet Surveillance Proposals
The idea behind lawful access is to provide Canada law enforcement with new, more sophisticated electronic surveillance tools to prevent and fight organized crime, money laundering and terrorist activities.
Geist analyzes various internal government documents recently obtained under the Access to Information Act that show how authorities are attempting to deal with the initial negative public reaction to the proposals to expand police powers.
Lawful access legislation had been introduced under the former Liberal government but died on the order paper. It is not sure what the current minority Conservative government is planning.
Further material on lawful access includes:
- Telecommunications and Lawful Access: I. The Legislative Situation in Canada (Library of Parliament, February 21, 2006): " 'Lawful access' is an investigative technique used by law enforcement agencies and national security agencies that involves intercepting communications and seizing information (during a search) where authorized by law. Canada, unlike other countries, suffers from a legislative void in this area in the context of new communications technologies. This paper, the first of two on the subject, analyzes the main elements of Bill C-74, the proposed Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act (MITA), which was tabled in mid-November 2005, only to die on the Order Paper two weeks later. The issue is important because this bill was the first legislative measure designed to update lawful access provisions in Canada, it was the culmination of an extensive consultation process, and many of its elements could serve as the basis for future legislative provisions on the matter. The second paper examines the legislative situation in other countries."
- Telecommunications and Lawful Access: II. The Legislative Situation in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia (Library of Parliament, February 28, 2006): "Bill C-74 was intended as a key step in the harmonization of legislation at the international level, specifically with regard to the interception capability of telecommunications service providers (...) The present document compares Bill C-74 with similar legislation in these three countries. Major differences and similarities are highlighted, with particular reference to the two aspects covered in the Canadian bill: interception capability, and requests for information about subscribers to telecommunications services."
- Lawful Access - Canadian government proposals for updating criminal laws and facilitating law enforcement in the electronic age (Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, webpage updated June 8, 2006): "CIPPIC is working with other groups and individuals concerned about increasing government surveillance to assess and respond to the Canadian government's 'lawful access' proposals. This webpage explains what's behind the proposals, the most significant of the proposals from a civil liberties/privacy perspective, and what you can do about them."
- Canadian Bar Association Worried About ISP Surveillance (July 8, 2006): "The Canadian Bar Association appears concerned that Internet service providers have been putting into place the technical capacity to monitor their customers' communications without proper authorization."