Canada introduces legislation to fight crime in today's high-tech world
The Canadian government has reintroduced two bills that would provide law enforcement and national security agencies with up-to-date tools to fight crimes such as gang- and terrorism-related offences and child sexual exploitation; the proposed legislation would provide law enforcement agencies with new, specialized investigative powers to help them take action against Internet child sexual exploitation, disrupt on-line organized crime activity and prevent terrorism
Rob Nicholson, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the other day re-introduced in the House of Commons two bills that would provide law enforcement and national security agencies with up-to-date tools to fight crimes such as gang- and terrorism-related offences and child sexual exploitation.
“New and evolving technologies provide new ways of committing crimes, making them harder to investigate,” said Nicholson. “We must ensure that law enforcement has the means to bring to justice those who would break the law. Twenty-first-century technology demands twenty-first-century tools for police to effectively investigate crime.”
The proposed Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act would provide law enforcement agencies with new, specialized investigative powers to help them take action against Internet child sexual exploitation, disrupt on-line organized crime activity, and prevent terrorism by:
- enabling police to identify all the network nodes and jurisdictions involved in the transmission of data and trace the communications back to a suspect. Judicial authorizations would be required to obtain transmission data, which provides information on the routing but does not include the content of a private communication;
- requiring a telecommunications service provider to temporarily keep data so that it is not lost or deleted in the time it takes law enforcement agencies to return with a search warrant or production order to obtain it;
- making it illegal to possess a computer virus for the purposes of committing an offence of mischief; and
- enhancing international cooperation to help in investigating and prosecuting crime that goes beyond Canada’s borders.
“We are giving our police the tools they need to keep up with criminals who are increasingly using new technology in carrying out their crimes. High-
tech criminals must be met by high-tech police,” said Dave MacKenzie, M.P. for Oxford and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety. “This announcement once again demonstrates our commitment to give our law enforcement agencies the tools they need to make our communities safer.”
The Canadian government says that the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act would address challenges posed by today’s technologies that did not exist when the legal framework for interception was last updated nearly forty years ago. The Act would require service providers to include interception capability in their networks, thereby allowing law enforcement and national security agencies to execute authorizations for interception in a more timely and efficient manner with a warrant. The proposed Act also calls for service providers to supply basic subscriber information upon request to designated law enforcement, Competition Bureau and national security officials.
Requirements to obtain court orders to intercept communications will not be changed by this Act. This legislation will simply help ensure that, when warrants are issued, telecommunications companies have the technical ability required to intercept communications for the police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and Sweden, already have similar legislation in place.
“Both of these pieces of legislation will provide vital tools to allow law enforcement officers to trace serious computer crimes such as child
pornography and hate crime,” said Daniel Petit, M.P. for Charlesbourg–Haute-Saint-Charles and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice. “Both acts help to address Canadians’ privacy concerns by including strict privacy safeguards which, in the case of the Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act, includes heightened requirements for obtaining judicial authorization before police can obtain data relating to a suspect’s location.”
The government says it carefully considered input provided by a broad range of stakeholders in developing these two pieces of legislation, including the telecommunications industry, civil liberties groups, victims’ advocates, police associations, and provincial/territorial justice officials. The government says that as a result, it has ensured that the Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act and the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act adopt a balanced approach, taking full account of the need to protect the safety and security of Canadians, the competitiveness of the telecommunications industry, and the privacy rights of Canadians.