scruloose: (Default)
say it with silence ([personal profile] scruloose) wrote2009-06-20 02:43 pm
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Warrantless wiretapping comes to Canada!

So, thanks to this BoingBoing post and the linked Calgary Herald article I've learned that the Conservative government has proposed legislation that will, if passed:
  • force ISPs to divulge subscribers' personal information without a warrant
  • force ISPs to install monitoring equipment at their own expense to enable police surveillance of their subscribers
  • allow the police to remotely activate tracking devices such as the GPS built in to most current cell-phones
  • and more!

Specifically, two bills called the Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act and the Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act have been introduced by Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson and Minister of Public Safety Peter Van Loan.

As you may imagine, this has me pissed off enough that I'm writing three variations of a letter: one for the two MPs who put their names to this, one to the office of the Prime Minister, and one to my Member of Parliament (who is NDP, and is likely already actively opposing these bills). I'm printing and snail-mailing all four copies, because I hear that physical letters carry more weight with politicians. If you are Canadian and you're reading this and you value your civil liberties, I urge you to call, write, or e-mail at least your own MP.
So here is the first version of my letter:

Dear Mr Nicholson,

I note with great concern that you have introduced the "Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act" and the "Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act", which would grant significant new powers of warrantless Internet surveillance to Canadian police. This proposed legislation is a stark reversal of the promise made by the Conservative government's own Minister of Public Safety in 2007, Stockwell Day, that any such legislation would maintain the existing legal requirement for judicial oversight.

This proposed legislation would gravely undermine the privacy rights of Canadians by forcing ISPs to divulge personal information without requiring a court order or warrant. Clayton Pecknold of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police claims that "This is really not about the warrantless tracking of Canadians' Internet use", yet that is precisely what this legislation would enable. Such a drastic attack on the civil liberties of Canadian citizens can not reasonably be even considered unless the police can produce specific, detailed, compelling evidence that it is strictly necessary and will be effective in allowing their investigations to succeed in significantly reducing criminal threats to Canadians. In spite of broad references to the usual bogeymen of "gangsters, sexual predators and terrorists" and their supposed "Internet safe havens", the police have utterly failed to show clear, compelling evidence that the drastic measures embodied in these acts are necessary. Furthermore, even if such evidence were forthcoming, let us keep in mind Benjamin Franklin's well-worn but still apt warning that "they who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety".

If your government succeeds in perpetrating this attack on my and my fellow Canadians' civil liberties and privacy rights, it will earn you and your party my undying and vocal enmity—I will refer frequently and loudly, in person, in print and online, to the Conservative party as the party that opened the door to a surveillance state, betraying the rights of all Canadian citizens. Rest assured, I am by no means alone in my position on this subject.

I'm certainly open to suggestions and opinions on the letter.
And, hell, if you want to sign your name to it and send a copy yourself, be my guest.

(Manually x-posted to LJ)