Government tables bill to allow police to snoop through electronic communications

If you gave police free reign you would be carrying an official identification card, have your fingerprints and DNA on file and probably (OK a bit too far) have video cameras in your house to make sure you aren’t breaking some law out of their sight.

Think not?

The Canadian government has just tabled legislation that would give police much easier access to your e-mail content and other digital equipment such as cellphones and the like. As the Globe and Mail reported:

Police will have sweeping new powers to collect information about Canadian Internet users without a warrant, and activate tracking devices in their cellphones and cars under legislation proposed by the Conservative government yesterday and criticized by privacy advocates as excessive.

If the government’s latest shot at introducing “lawful access” legislation – something successive governments have tried but failed to do for the past decade or so – succeeds, Internet service providers will also be forced to install monitoring technology on their servers to keep track of their users’ online activities.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan yesterday introduced two bills – the Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act and the Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act – just before the House of Commons empties out until the fall session.

In another article in the National Post:

The draft legislation would also oblige telecom firms and Internet service providers (ISPs) to quickly give authorities subscriber information such as name, address, telephone number and Internet protocol address, e-mail address, service provider identification and certain cellphone identifiers.

You don’t think that the various police departments and certainly the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs haven’t been lobbying the government for just this kind of  legislation?

Certainly it bothers me that the police continually push for even more ways to insinuate themselves into your private life, but what bothers me a great deal more is how casually our elected representatives are willing to offer up legislation that reduces Canadians’ rights and freedoms.

On a narrower scale we have Victoria police of chief, Jamie Graham, wanting the B.C. government to ban all cellphone use while operating a vehicle.

Certainly there is inappropriate use of cellphones by drivers, but I have seen even worse instances of people driving while reading material laying on the passengers seat, eating or numerous other distracting activities.

As the article says, four provinces already have bans in place for the use of hand held phones while driving, but Graham also wants to ban hands-free units. For the life of me I can’t see why talking on a hands free cellphone is any more distracting than talking to a passenger in your car. Personally, I would think it would be less distracting.

And as the article points out:

Newly appointed Solicitor General Rich Coleman said the Ministry of Public Safety is looking at a broad number of issues that distract drivers, and will consider the cellphone issue if the B.C. police chiefs bring it forward.

“But the problem is at one time it was the cellphone. It’s not just the cellphone anymore. It’s electronic devices like BlackBerries, MP3 players, GPS units.”

Right. It’s not a cellphone that causes the problem it’s driving without due care and attention.

But regardless, they want to give us another law that doesn’t really solve a problem; as if we don’t have enough of those already.

Besides, do you really think that people aren’t going to continue to use their cellphones in their cars? Give me a break. It’s now part of the culture. It just gives the police one more reason to pull you over and write a ticket (and act accusatory).

The problem is not cellphones or BlackBerries or MP3 players. The problem is human stupidity, of which we all have a genetic share. I have seen a person almost walk into the side of a moving vehicle while totally engrossed in texting. Certainly one way to be removed from the gene pool.

You can pass all the laws you want, but you can’t legislate common sense.


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One Response to “Government tables bill to allow police to snoop through electronic communications”

  1. Blackberry Secret Codes Says:

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