Internet Privacy is back on the table again. And as per usual, it’s being rushed through the House of Commons, since the Conservatives would rather not have the public pay too much attention to what they’re up to.
In fact, in announcing that they were introducing the new laws which would allow law enforcement to demand sensitive and identifying information from ISP’s without a warrant, the Conservatives launched the first salvo saying if you opposed the bill you’re on the side of child pornographers.
Really. So almost every provincial privacy commissioner, along with the federal privacy commissioner, whom have raised grave concerns over the looming legislation, are on the side of child pornographers. Every Canadian who thinks that the government shouldn’t be snooping through their internet packets without justifiable cause, is on the side of those who victimize and exploit the most vulnerable. Really. Wow. That’s a pretty big blanket statement.
Or maybe the Conservatives know full well that the majority of Canadians don’t want big brother watching them, so they have to go to extremes. It seems an awful lot like a certain southern neighbour tactic. You know, the ole, if you oppose the government, you’re unpatriotic crap that’s been spewed by partisans in the United States for the last couple of years. Are Canadians really getting so stupid that this sort of bullshit will work? You’re either with us, or with the child pornographers?
I don’t support child pornographers. I also don’t support this poorly thought out piece of expletive legislation.
In the new digital age, police need new investigative powers. I won’t argue that. They need to be able to track down sexual offenders, child pornographers and see that they face the justice system. In fact, the harsher sentences for these types of criminals is about the only part of the new crime bill already before the House that I support. Seriously, I’d be open to re-opening the debate on capital punishment in regards to these guys.
But giving police these new powers without oversight is asking for abuse. And mark my words, if they are allowed to collect the information that is listed in this bill without warrants, it WILL be abused eventually. It’s the nature of the beast, and of humanity. Why have a power if you’re not going to use it? Once you use it, you get used to using it, until the bar for using it becomes pretty low. That’s why we have a warrant system in place for phone taps. That’s why trials are held in public view, to keep everyone accountable. The police need to be held accountable and that’s what warrants do.
In Canada, there’s no constitutional right to privacy. People seem to think there is, but there isn’t. There is however this:
“Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.”
So the question is, if this passes, how long until the courts decide that warrantless information collection is going to be inadmissible as it breaches the right to unreasonable search and seizure? Hopefully not too long. If we’re really lucky, one of the big telecoms will show some guts, and refuse the first attempt by police to collect information without a warrant. I think the courts will defend the constitution.
Though I do think it could be pretty interesting to see what flimsy excuses come out when police start being forced to explain why they were breaching these rights with their warrantless data collection.
I think it would be better though if we amended this broken piece of legislation now. Give police the tools they need to track down those who victimize children using the internet. Money, training, and legislation together can help them get these criminals. Just include arms length oversight. You don’t even need to create a new system, we already have it. They’re called warrants, and, all the cool democracies already use ‘em.