FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2012
Lawful Access Legislation Lacks Safeguards
OTTAWA –The Government’s “lawful access” bill lacks essential safeguards to protect consumers’ privacy, today warned the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). The short-titledProtecting Children from Internet Predators Act, Bill C-30 introduced today in Parliament, has weak oversight mechanisms and permits indiscriminate “fishing expeditions” into consumers’ internet use for any offence, according to PIAC.
“Now is the time for Canadians to tell their MPs that the new surveillance tools introduced in this bill are intrusive and their use has to be carefully scrutinized to ensure they are only used to serious crimes and where there is some basis for suspicion. As written the bill permits abuse of the tools in the name of general law enforcement,” says John Lawford, counsel for PIAC, an Ottawa-based non-profit organization that provides legal representation, research and advocacy on behalf of consumers.
The bill provides police and security agencies access to consumers’ “subscriber information” such as e-mail and IP address, without a warrant. “This is not phonebook information that is being accessed,” added Lawford, “these identifiers have never been publicly available at the consumer level. Therefore accessing them, and the further information that they lead to is not appropriate without a warrant because Canadians don’t expect such monitoring of their internet use by the state.”
PIAC calls on the Parliamentary committee that will be studying Bill C-30 to consider substantive amendments to ensure stronger oversight of these new powers and to add appropriate suspicion-based criteria for access to subscriber internet identifiers.
PIAC is also member of the “Stop Online Spying” (SOS) coalition of consumer and civil liberties groups that have additional specific concerns with the lawful access legislation, such as its cost to consumers and its potential negative effect on network security. Anyone wishing to join the coalition or sign the SOS petition should visit www.stopspying.ca Consumers are also invited to call or write their Member of Parliament to express their views on the legislation and to encourage others to do so.
For more information:
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
ONE Nicholas Street, Suite 1204
(613) 562-0007 (Fax)