An important issue is being raised by our federal Privacy Commissioner around changes to legislation to combat online fraud and other crimes. These changes look to be more than cursory — they would potentially create a legal environment where law enforcement can implement excessive surveillance on Canadians.
To quote Jennifer Stoddart’s letter to Vic Toews, the Minister of Public Safety:
By expanding the legal tools of the state to conduct surveillance and access private information, and by reducing the depth of judicial scrutiny, the previous bills would have allowed government to subject more individuals to surveillance and scrutiny. In brief, these bills went far beyond simply maintaining investigative capacity or modernizing search powers. Rather, they added significant new capabilities for investigators to track, and search and seize digital information about individuals.
This is an important issue, one worth paying attention to over the coming months.
Update: See the Privacy Law blog’s post and an editorial from Ann Cavoukian, the privacy commissioner for Ontario.