The Canadian Government has introduced legislation to expand its surveillance of Internet users.
In the spring, the Government of Canada introduced two pieces of legislation that would greatly expand the power of the state to monitor its citizens online activity. The legislation, known as the Investigative Powers for the 21st Century (IP21C) Act,
would force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to install costly surveillance systems on their networks and give police wide ranging new powers that do away with judicial oversight.
According to University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, the legislation would create additional requirements for ISPs and expand police powers. These ISP requirements can be broken down into two components. First, ISPs will be required to install
costly surveillance equipment on their networks. Part of the cost will fall to taxpayers while the remainder will be carried by the companies themselves. Some smaller ISPs will be exempt from this requirement for a period of three years, creating an
unfair burden on the larger, more successful companies. Second, the legislation would requires that all ISPs give personal information to the government, including the names of their customers, as well as their IP, e-mail, and mailing addresses—on demand
and without any judicial oversight.
Police will also gain expanded powers under this legislation. First, they will be able to obtain information about Internet-based messaging, including tracking what sites people are visiting and who they are communicating with. This information will be
subject to a judicial order. Second, police will be able to order ISPs to preserve data on their customers. Third, police will be able to obtain a warrant to remotely activate tracking devices in technologies such as cellular telephones. Fourth, the
legislation also deals with computer viruses and makes it easier for the government to coordinate its efforts with international governments.
There are numerous problems with the proposed legislation that should be alarming to freedom loving Canadians. It forces private business to not only be complicit in the government's attempt to spy on its citizens, it also forces them to shoulder much of
the financial responsibility for the new policy. As such, some ISPs may be forced out of business. In addition, the legislation gives law enforcement officials unprecedented access to private communications and forces ISPs to preserve private data and
disclose subscribers identities.