Government introduces bill to grant police Internet surveillance powers

The Conservative government has introduced legislation that would provide law enforcement agencies greater power to monitor the Internet.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson tabled the Legislation To Fight Crime In The 21st Century act Wednesday, which if passed would give police the powers to obtain transmission data from electronic communications but would still require either a warrant or production or order.

Under the proposed legislation, police can also obtain an order forcing Internet Service Providers to preserve data related to a particular subscriber who is under investigation.

While the bill would provide new powers to police, there are also additional requirements put on the ISPs themselves.

The bill would require ISPs to add “interception capabilities” to their networks, allowing police to tap into online communications like a phone call. Smaller ISPs without the resources to make such changes to their networks are exempt under the proposed legislation.

The bill would also require ISPs to disclose personal information about subscribers to law enforcement without the need for a warrant.

From the press release:

“Evolving communications technologies like the Internet, cell phones, and PDAs (personal digital assistants) clearly benefit Canadians in their day-to-day lives,” said Nicholson. “Unfortunately, these technologies have also provided new ways of committing crimes such as distributing child pornography. We must ensure investigators have the necessary powers to trace and ultimately stop crimes.”

The Legislation To Fight Crime In The 21st Century act is similar to a bill tabled by the Liberal government in 2005 that later died when an election was called in 2006.