Canada to expand spying

By transit · Oct 13, 2005 ·
  1. transit
    <st1:City><st1:place><b style="">Ottawa[/b]</st1:place></st1:City><b style=""> seeks wiretap access to spy on criminals[/b]

    New legislation that will enable authorities to conduct
    surveillance on e-mails and telephone calls won't step on civil rights, Prime
    Minister Paul Martin insists.

    "When the government brings forth this kind of
    legislation obviously the question of civil rights is first and foremost in our
    minds and they will be protected," Martin told reporters during a visit to
    <st1:City><st1:place>Toronto</st1:place></st1:City> Tuesday.

    The Lawful Access Bill, which will be introduced in the
    House of Commons next month, requires telecommunications companies to install
    high-tech equipment capable of intercepting exchanges.

    The government insists their proposals will bring <st1:country-region><st1:place>Canada</st1:place></st1:country-region>'s
    laws on wiretaps up to date and will mean police will be able to keep up with
    organized criminals who are using high-tech to get around wiretaps.

    "We're not giving the police any new powers, it's just
    keeping up with the technology and keeping up with the criminals," Ontario
    Liberal MP Roy Cullen told CTV News.

    Winnipeg Police Chief Jack Ewatski said it was time to
    "play catch-up."

    "There are people in our society who are looking at <st1:country-region><st1:place>Canada</st1:place></st1:country-region>
    as an intercept-free safe haven, and we don't want that to be the case,"
    he said.

    The new technology would give police and the Canadian
    Security Intelligence Service, <st1:country-region><st1:place>Canada</st1:place></st1:country-region>'s
    spy agency, the ability to intercept the e-mail, Internet chat, telephone and
    cell phone conversations of thousands of people at a time.

    The <st1:country-region><st1:place>United States</st1:place></st1:country-region>
    has already adopted similar legislation.

    In May, federal Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart
    raised concerns about the proposed legislation with Justice Minister Irwin

    "Law enforcement agencies will not only have a greater
    ability to obtain communications data there is also much more data available
    and, as discussed above, they now have far more sophisticated means of
    analyzing this data," Stoddart wrote in her submission to Cotler.

    "This combination could result in law enforcement
    agencies being able to gain access to far more information about our personal
    lives than they have in the past.

    "We remain sceptical about the need for these
    potentially intrusive and far-reaching measures."

    Privacy advocate Darrell Evans echoed that concern. He says
    the legislation is excessive and fears criminals will find ways around new

    "It means you and I have lost our privacy, with no net
    gains in security," he told CTV News.

    Despite higher perceived security alert levels since the
    9-11 terrorist attacks, applications for judicial wiretap orders in <st1:country-region><st1:place>Canada</st1:place></st1:country-region>
    have declined over the last three years, from a high of 180 in 2002, to just
    127 last year.

    However, police agencies have lobbied extensively for
    greater technological capabilities to eavesdrop on Canadians and the federal
    government wants to give them the tools to do so, Alex Swann, a spokesman for
    Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, told the Canadian Press.

    "As a government we cannot seek a certain number of
    wiretaps," she said.

    "We can ask industry to ensure that there's adequate
    capacity. But ultimately it's judges who will determine how many criminal code
    wiretaps there will be."

    Under the proposed regulations, telecommunications companies
    would be required to build a new wiretapping capacity only when they decide to
    upgrade equipment.

    "There is going to be a gradual implementation of the
    legislation, Zuwena Robidas, a spokeswoman for Public Safety and Emergency
    Preparedness Canada, told CP.

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