New legislation forces ISPs to provide user info without a warrant

The federal government is trying, for the umpteenth time, to produce legislation that would compel ISPs to provide their customers’ personal information to police and would allow police to intercept online communication without a warrant.

The new legislation is designed to fight the distribution of child pornography and terrorism.

The government will be tabling two bills, the Investigative Power for the 21st Century Act and the Investigating and the Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act. The bills, according to the CBC, would:

  • Allow police to identify all network nodes and jurisdictions involved in data transmission and trace the communications back to a suspect.
  • Force ISPs to keep data temporarily so that it isn’t lost or deleted before law enforcement agencies return with a search warrant or production order to obtain it.
  • Make it illegal to possess a computer virus for the purpose of committing a criminal offence.
  • Enhance international co-operation to help Canadian authorities investigate alleged crime that goes beyond its borders.
  • Force ISPs to install interception systems in their networks, making it easier for law enforcement or national security agencies to intercept information.
  • Provide police with “timely access” to personal information about subscribers, including names, address and internet addresses, without the need for a warrant.

The CBC interviewed Michael Geist, a law professor from the University of Ottawa who has been a prominent critic and commentator on changes to Internet policy.

“That type of approach is open to abuse, and I don’t think it strikes the right balance,” Geist told CBC News. “There is a significant price to be paid, and sadly, scant evidence that a) we’ve got a problem, and b) that this is going to do very much about it.”

“If you were serious about dealing with cyber crime … it’s not new legislation that’s needed. It‘s the resources for law enforcement that’s needed.”

The government is smart to say that this bill is for the express purposes of fighting child pornography and terrorism. I mean, only monsters support child pornography and terrorism, right? And certainly, that will be all this bill is used for — and certainly not enforcing their heavy-handed Bill C-32, which criminalizes the sharing of copyrighted media over the Internet.

The police need a warrant before they go through your mail, and they need one before they tap your phone. So why is it okay for them to tap into your Internet without a warrant? All this adds up to is a massive violation of privacy so that business interests who pushed for new copyright legislation can rest easy, knowing that their friends in government are looking out for them.

What do you think about this new legislation? Necessary? Unnecessary? Useless? Offensive? Well-thought out? Or am I just wearing my tinfoil hat a little too tightly today?