Friday, October 26, 2012

Canadian police chiefs attempt to revive lawful access

At a time when most observers say that Bill C-30, also known as the "lawful access" bill, is dead in the water, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police have today come out swinging calling for its revival.

In connection with this effort CACP have put together a strong collection of documents to put forward their position. Here's the media release [pdf]:

Police Confirm Canadians’ Top Five Fears About Lawful Access CACP Renews Appeal for Lawful Access Legislation

VANCOUVER, BC – The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police CACP) is launching a renewed effort to inform Canadians as they debate police authority for ‘lawful access’, in the context of Bill C-30 – “Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act.”

“If we stand by and do nothing, criminals will continue to exploit today’s technologies to criminally harass and threaten others and commit frauds, scams and organized and violent crimes with little fear of being caught. Canadians need the same protection against criminals that other western democracies enjoy,” stated CACP President Chief Constable Jim Chu.

Previous Canadian governments have introduced lawful access legislation only to have it ‘die on the order paper.’ The CACP is not willing to watch Bill C-30 fall victim to a similar fate. “If we don’t take a strong stance on this issue, Canadians will not appreciate the limitations that constrain law enforcement in the cyber world. Law enforcement continues to be handcuffed by legislation introduced in 1975, the days of the rotary phone. Today we allow new technologies to be used as a safe-haven for serious criminal activity, but are pulling back from using technology to prevent and investigate these serious crimes,” Chu continues.

“If the laws from the 1970s are not modernized, then organized criminals will plan their killings and kidnappings using telecommunications providers who do not build into their systems the technical ability to be monitored for the purpose of gathering evidence. Terrorists will exploit these same gaps. Victims who have been scammed or extorted over the Internet will be told the electronic footprint linking the suspect to the crime has disappeared because the telecommunications provider has no legal obligation to preserve data. If a suspect lures a child using a landline phone, basic subscriber information is available in a phone directory. But predators today don’t use old technology. The parent of a child who has been lured over the Internet will be told that the police search for their child is delayed because a warrant has to be obtained for basic subscriber information.”

"Criminal bullying is extremely concerning to all Canadians, especially the parents of young children, and Bill C-30 also provides new legislation to help police intervene and investigate cyber bullying in their early stages to prevent needless tragedy. The Bill makes it an offence to use telecommunications, including social media and the internet, to injure, alarm and harass others. " Canadians need to understand what lawful access is truly about.

The CACP has created a video entitled “Police Confirm Canadians’ Top Five Fears About Lawful Access” which can be viewed at In addition, to promote informed discussion on this issue, the CACP has prepared a document entitled “Simplifying Lawful Access – Through the Lens of Law Enforcement.” It is available on the CACP website or directly at

The document compares today’s environment to the proposed new legislation, provides answers to ‘frequently asked questions’ and includes a series of case studies describing how law enforcement uses basic subscriber information.

While the CACP endorses Bill C-30, we would like to make it clear there is one part of the bill that has posed concerns to some and we share that concern. Section 34 is currently worded suggesting that an inspector can search anything, including a Canadian's private information at a telecommunications provider's facility, to verify compliance with the act. It is easy to understand why some might conclude from such wording that inspectors would have unfettered access to Canadians' personal records when doing these inspections. While we realize this is not the intention of this section, this must be clarified.

We recognize such inspections are required but the wording in Section 34 needs to be changed to assure Canadians that their personal information will never be a part of that inspection.”

The CACP urges our politicians to provide police with modern tools so they can better protect Canadians from harm. Bill C-30 would achieve this. The CACP agrees with the stronger accountability and oversight provisions in C-30 that protect the public against misuse of police intercept powers. The CACP urges Members of Parliament, the media and all Canadians to review the importance of this legislation through the lens of today’s victims of crime, and the frontline law enforcement officers who are trying to prevent and investigate crimes.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police was established in 1905 and represents approximately 1,000 police leaders from across Canada. The Association is dedicated to the support and promotion of efficient law enforcement and to the protection and security of the people of Canada. Through its member police chiefs and other senior police executives, the CACP represents in excess of 90% of the police community in Canada which include federal, First Nations, provincial, regional and municipal, transportation and military police leaders.

I'll have more to say in the near future about the document produced by the CACP, but in the meantime it will be interesting to see if this will have any effect on the toxic bill.

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