Tories Reintroduce “Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act”

by Jordan Richardson on November 2, 2010

Stephen Harper’s federal Conservatives have reintroduced legislation that will make it legal for police and Canadian intelligence officers to “intercept” online communications and gather personal information from ISPs without obtaining a warrant first.

The legislation is called the “Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act.”

“New and evolving technologies provide new ways of committing crimes, making them harder to investigate,” said Justice Minister Rob Nicholson. “Criminals continue to find new ways to evade the law. Our Criminal Code and other federal legislation must be updated.”

According to Dave MacKenzie, parliamentary secretary to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, the bill is designed to target child predators and identity thieves.

Back in June of last year, the bill was initially introduced as part of the necessity for police and intelligence officers to “keep up” with the advanced criminals of our time. At the time, Michael Vonn, policy director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said “This bill is a Trojan horse to expand police powers and essentially allow for a data grab.”

The new and reintroduced version of the bill arrives with the full support of the Canadian Association of the Chiefs of Police. “The role of police services has quickly transformed beyond localized community-based law enforcement given the rapid advances and reach of today’s communication and internet-based technologies” said Chief William Blair, president of CACP. “We are guided by the principle of every Canadian’s right to a reasonable expectation of privacy.  We also believe Canadians recognize the need for law enforcement to more effectively combat criminal activities which rely on rapidly evolving technologies – the global internet, cellular and computer-based networks.”

The reintroduced bill grants law enforcement officers the authority to:

  • identify all network nodes and jurisdictions involved in the transmission of data and trace the communications back to a suspect
  • require a telecommunications service provider to temporarily keep data so that it is not lost or deleted in the time it takes law enforcement agencies to return with a search warrant or production order to obtain it
  • make it illegal to possess a computer virus for the purposes of committing an offence of mischief
  • enhance international cooperation to help in investigating and prosecuting crime that goes beyond Canada’s borders

The federal Conservatives were quick to point to other countries that have similar legislation, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

At press time, the full text of the Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act was not yet available on the government website. It is expected to be posted soon, however.

We can probably expect another civil liberties debate to take place with respect to this Act and rightly so. An interesting aspect of the Act is that most police chiefs do indeed have the full cooperation of most ISPs when it comes to collecting timely information pertaining to criminal investigations. This legislation seems to exist to add extra authoritative muscle to the arrangement.

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Written by: Jordan Richardson. www.digitcom.ca >. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com > by: RSS >, Twitter >, Identi.ca >, or Friendfeed >

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