University of Guelph Political Science Society Blog

The follies of ‘Lawful Access’

Currently, ISPs can voluntarily disclose information to police, but are not required to unless authorities produce a warrant. The new bill will force ISPs to turn over, without a warrant, customers’ names, address, phone number, e-mail address, and Internet Protocol (IP) address. The new data will be transmitted in real time to authorities. The government has not shown that their current powers are insufficient. Judicial oversight of the process helps to prevent abuse, and this will be removed.

This is a severe violation of privacy rights. The federal and all provincial/territorial privacy commissioners have spoken out against the bill on the grounds that it is wrong to monitor customers without their knowledge and the lack of judicial oversight. The commissioners are worried that for those police which are not subject to a provincial privacy office, police will have virtually unfettered discretion in this area. Additionally, no law enforcement agencies have stated that their current powers are insufficient. One is left wondering what the purpose of this bill truly is.

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