It really isn’t a shock to see police chiefs from across Canada coming out in support of the warrantless search and privacy violations contained in Bill C-30, disingenuously named “Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act”. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) even go so far as calling it a “reasonable tool” in the battle against crime.
Obviously they use a very different dictionary than I do, since mine doesn’t classify warrantless searches and privacy invasion as “reasonable.” Then again, there isn’t a lot the CACP and I agree on. If a law or proposed law violates yours and my Charter Rights, then it’s a lock that the CACP will be for it and I will be against it.
Bill C-30 is no different.
Dubbing it “lawful access” as if simply calling warrantless searches “lawful” can make them so, police do themselves and Canadians a great disservice by playing these types of semantic games. There is nothing “lawful” about violating our Right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
Under the title “Why we are asking for “Lawful Access,” the CACP says the following:
The Global Internet, cellular phones and social media have been widely adopted and enjoyed by Canadians, young and old. Many of us have been affected by computer viruses, spam and increasingly, bank or credit card fraud. These new media are also being used as a safe haven for serious criminal activity - identity theft, child and sexual exploitation, gangs, organized crime and national security threats.
I have no doubt that all of these things are happening, and that police should be doing what they can to prevent them where possible and prosecute the offenders where it is not, there is still this pesky little thing called the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada.
The CACP and the police forces it represents would be much happier, I am sure, if the government would simply tear up that document so police could do whatever they want.
Under PIPEDA (the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) police already have the ability to obtain your personal information from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Police have had this ability for a very long time. PIPEDA includes the same gag order as C-30, where ISPs are prevented from telling you if they have given your personal information to anyone even when you ask them directly.
Where Bill C-30 differs from PIPEDA is that it forces ISPs to give up your personal information. Currently ISPs can voluntarily give up your information but they are not forced to. Bill C-30 makes it mandatory when a police officer or any other bureaucrat authorized under this act demands it, either orally or in writing.
The fact that warrantless searches have become the norm for legislation, as I and many others have written about before, doesn’t make it right or Constitutional. Our Right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure is being destroyed before our very eyes by the very people who are supposed to safeguard us: politicians and police.
Just because police are already violating our rights without a warrant is no reason to make that violation “legal.”
If police have a reasonable belief that someone has or is committing a crime, then they should have to go before a judge and get a warrant. I understand that this causes a delay and in an age of instant gratification many find any delay unacceptable. Police are not exempt from wanting what they want when they want it. That doesn’t mean we should give it to them.
I’ll say it again.
If police believe someone has committed a crime, go before a judge and get a search warrant.
In our mad rush to “get the bad guys” we are willing to say and do anything. With each new law we are assured that, despite the language of the law clearly spelling out how it can be abused, it never will be. Really?
There is a far easier way to guarantee that a law can’t be abused. Write it that way!
Michael Geist has an excellent overview of the more obscene portions of Bill C-30.
While the bill includes some detail on surveillance capability requirements, perhaps the most dangerous provision is Section 14, which gives the government a stunning array of powers:
to order an ISP or telecom provider to install surveillance capabilities "in a manner and within a time" specified by the government
to order an ISP or telecom provider to install additional equipment to allow for more simultaneous interceptions than is otherwise specified in the law (the government sets a maximum and then can simply ignore its own guidelines)
to order an ISP or telecom provider to comply with additional confidentiality requirements not otherwise specified in the law
to order an ISP or telecom provider to meet additional operational requirements not otherwise specified in the law
I highly recommend you read the rest of his article.
Laws should not be examined for the good they will do when used properly, but for the harm they will do when used improperly. Nobody wants to look at the harm Bill C-30 will do when used improperly, for it surely will.
The CACP, Vic Toews and others claim that Bill C-30 contains precious safeguards for our privacy. If only that were a fact. While the bill does contain sections that provide oversight well after the fact, they are meaningless.
Attempting to get justice after the fact is practically impossible as the Jessie Sansone case is showing us right now.
Three government agencies combined to violate Jessie Sansone's Charter Rights in the most egregious fashion imaginable, yet there will be no admission of wrongdoing by anyone from any of these agencies. All we hear is a constant whine of “we just followed procedure”, and “we didn’t do anything wrong.”
If these State Minions were just following procedure, then those procedures need to be rewritten immediately to add a large dose of common sense. The only people who can’t see that they’ve overstepped their bounds are the people who made this fiasco happen.
The rest of us are quite clear that they’ve lost all common sense and decency.
It will take a lawsuit to get any semblance of justice done in Jessie’s case, and none of that will make up for the the atrocious way he was treated at the hands of our Almighty State.
The default position of any government agency when caught doing something wrong is always Bureaucrat's Rule Number 1: The Rules are More Important Than People.
In light of Jessie Sansone’s recent tribulations I really ought to amend that rule to add the words “or common sense.”Our precious Rights and Freedoms deserve more than mere lip service. They require a constant defence from all of us, and that should include our police and politicians as well.
“Oh Canada, we stand on guard for thee” is part of our National Anthem. If those words are to be anything more than meaningless scribbles on a page then Bill C-30 must be scrapped.