August 19, 2016
Canadian Police Push For Greater Personal Internet Access
Ever since Edward Snowden exposed the NSA’s controversial surveillance tactics, the topic of privacy rights on the Internet has been a hot button issue. While much of the conversation has been focused on the policies of the US, it is something that affects the whole world and now Canada is dealing with it firsthand.
On Tuesday, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police passed a resolution calling for the legal ability to unlock digital evidence, as there is no Canadian law stating that a person needs to provide a password for their device to the police during an investigation. This partly stems from the case last year down south of the border where the FBI went to court to get the right to crack a suspect’s phone password who was involved in the San Bernardino mass shooting.
It’s no surprise that a wealth of a criminal activity takes place online and is heavily protected by encryption and other tactics. The police also want to be able to obtain basic information about suspects through their telecommunications companies. Right now, police need to have court approval to get access to this information, which takes time and usually ends up in the relevant incriminating evidence being deleted. “The victims in the digital space are real,” stated Joe Oliver, the RCMP Assistant Commissioner. “Canada’s law and policing capabilities must keep pace with the evolution of technology.”
While the reasons for police intruding into people’s personal online environments obviously come from a place of public protection, there is certainly a big push-back from citizens as well. David Christopher is a spokesperson for a group called OpenMedia, which advocates for keeping the Internet free of surveillance. “On the face of it, this seems like it’s clearly unconstitutional,” he said.
The federal government is now beginning a consultation on cybersecurity that runs until October 15, 2016 at which point a resolution will most certainly be addressed. This topic will undoubtedly continue to get thornier in the coming months.