Court challenge likely if online surveillance bill passes, suggests B.C. civil rights advocate

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      New federal electronic surveillance legislation would likely invite a constitutional challenge if passed in Ottawa, a B.C. Civil Liberties Association spokesperson suggests.

      Introduced in the House of Commons on February 14, the legislation would enable law enforcement officials to obtain some information about Internet users without a warrant.

      Telecommunications service providers would be required to share customer information like names, telephone numbers, email addresses, and IP addresses. The companies would also have to put in place systems to intercept communications to aid investigations.

      The federal government maintains the legislation is intended to help law enforcement keep pace with technological advances as they fight online crime. However, privacy advocates have raised concern authorities would have too much power to snoop into the personal lives of Canadians.

      “Huge pieces of this [legislation] are ripe for constitutional challenge….,” B.C. Civil Liberties Association policy director Micheal Vonn told the Straight by phone.

      Vonn cited the section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protects everyone from unreasonable search or seizure. However, the Vancouver lawyer insisted mounting a legal challenge would not be an ideal strategy to address problems with the legislation.

      “We need to straighten this out up front and we don’t think that Canadians should be, as much as they are now, subject to many years of unconstitutional laws while we await challengers to work their way through the court system,” Vonn said. “Simply put, it behooves the government to address the constitutional issues up front.”

      According to the Globe and Mail, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has defended the legislation, saying “there is nothing in the bill that would allow police to snoop on an individual's private conversations or even to follow a person's activities on the Web. All that has to be done through a judicially authorized warrant.”

      An online petition posted by the Internet advocacy group OpenMedia.ca has garnered more than 90,000 signatures from opponents of the bill.

      Comments

      2 Comments

      e.a.f.

      Feb 16, 2012 at 1:27am

      getting a search warrant isn't such a big deal so if the Conservatives want to avoid it I am very suspicous. They may call the bill whatever they wish but it comes down to them accessing information which is private.

      Given how the Conservatives treated Veterans who complained about Veteran's Affairs, like accessing their medical files, every body got to have alook and a cabinet minister just think of what they could do if the bill passes as is.

      They have attempted to pass this bill off as protecting children from predators. If they are so concerned about child predators why does their new "crime bill" give grow op operators a longer jail term than child predators? If they are so concerned about child predators & child porn why haven't they provided additional resources--staff & money, to help the various police forces across Canada deal with the problem.

      I do believe Harper and his buddies want to be able to spy on their political opponets & activists. The proposed bill looks like something they do in China, Syria, Iran, Eygpt, etc.

      Toews comments in the Commons of "either you can stand with us or stand with child pornographers" is out in left field; it is beyond imagination. Where does the guy even get the thought. Anyhow if the guy would lie to his wife I am sure it is no big deal to lie to the country.

      The bill has to go. We are a free country and have the right to remain so. Our parents fought in WW II against facists. Now its time for us to fight against Harper and his brand of facist.

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      Linda

      Feb 18, 2012 at 3:54pm

      16 members of the Vancouver police department, were caught watching porn on the computers at their job site. That's the last thing we need, is police having easy access to more porn.

      I see this internet snooping, as another means of controlling the citizens. The media are controlled, they are just propaganda machines for the government. Now Harper wants to take, our Freedom of Speech away from us.

      Canada is too much of a, cesspool of corruption, to permit a dictator to stop citizens from communicating on the net.

      That's what Hitler did. Goebbels was Hitler's propaganda minister. None of Hitler's dastardly criminal deeds, were ever to get to the public's ears. The German citizens saw far too late, what Hitler had done to them and their country. Russia tried to starve the German people into submission. The very country's they went to war with, flew supplies and food into West Berlin.

      Dictatorships always fail. People will only take so much, before they explode into anger. Canadians are becoming very angry.

      When people lose everything, and have nothing left to lose, t.hey lose it.

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