OpenMedia criticizes police push

Published: Wed 26 Aug 2015 07:57 AM
OpenMedia criticizes police push for warrantless access to private Internet subscriber data
OpenMedia is extremely concerned by the proposal put forward by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police that would make it far easier for police to access Canadians’ online records without a warrant. The police proposal flies in the face of a landmark pro-privacy ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada last year.
Yesterday it was reported that police want expedited warrantless access to Canadians’ private Internet subscriber data, proposing three different options that would see them receive information about any Canadian from their telecommunications companies without judicial oversight or accountability.
This proposal directly contradicts the privacy priorities identified by Canadians for legislators. Over 125,000 provided input into Canada’s Privacy Plan, a crowdsourced roadmap for addressing Canada’s privacy deficit, where “Get a Warrant” was the biggest demand from individuals within Canada’s privacy policies.
“What police chiefs are calling for here amounts to nothing more than a license for online spying – and we haven’t seen any evidence they even need these powers. Their proposals fail to recognize the independent, effective oversight required to ensure the system is not abused, and that Canadians’ privacy is respected,” said Laura Tribe, Digital Rights Specialist at OpenMedia.
Digital surveillance and information sharing are growing concerns among the Canadian public. Almost 300,000 Canadians have spoken out against the expanded information sharing and surveillance powers in Bill C-51, and these proposed changes by the police chiefs would only perpetuate the violations of Canadians’ privacy that violate our rights.
In the June 2014 R. v. Spencer ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that police must obtain a warrant to access Internet subscriber information–a practice that previously only required a form to be filled out–and telecommunications companies would provide the data. Since the Spencer decision, requests to telecoms providers have decreased substantially; indicating that there was overuse of the previous system — something that privacy advocates fear will return we remove judicial oversight.
OpenMedia will continue to monitor this proposal as it moves forward, and work to protect Canadians’ digital privacy.

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