Monday, January 17, 2011

C-52 Bomber Ready for Take-off

I was perusing the Internet today, looking for something to wrangle into insensibility, when I realized I had not wet my pants in almost a week! Considering how terrible that was, I went looking for the scariest political news I could possibly find. Within a few seconds I was provided with an article that made me so uncomfortable I immediately started eyeballing other people in the room, wondering if I could steal their pants. So hitch up your "Police State Panic Pants" and wander through this development with me.

I used to have a friend that did not own a cellphone. It was just about one of the largest pains-in-the-ass that I have ever had to deal with and I could see no reason for it, especially in the hey-day of "pay-as-you-go" programs, where it was easy to buy some little flip box and stuff a twenty dollar pay card on it in case of emergencies. After this, however, I am starting to wonder if it might not be a good idea.

Bill C-52 was introduced back in November, and is apparently not going very far, but just the fact that it is on the books makes my knuckles itchy. Let me just whet your appetite with a couple of choice passages:

This enactment requires telecommunications service providers to put in place and maintain certain capabilities that facilitate the lawful interception of information transmitted by telecommunications and to provide basic information about their subscribers to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Commissioner of Competition and any police service constituted under the laws of a province. “intercept” includes listen to, record or acquire a communication or acquire the substance, meaning or purport of the communication. every telecommunications service provider must have the capa- bility to do the following: (a) provide intercepted communications to authorized persons; and (b) provide authorized persons with the prescribed information that is in the possession or control of the service provider respecting the location of equipment used in the transmission of communications. This sounds uncomfortably like enabling the police to record phone conversations. At the very lowest it empowers police officers to scan regions of people then demand information from the mobile phone companies about who was present, their addresses, phone numbers, and in some cases, their current locations. Worse, it includes a provision empowering the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to reimburse the station for the costs incurred during the execution of this obligation, for any amount deemed reasonable by the Minister (to be paid by either the agency requesting the information or in the case of individual officers, by the police chief). This opens a whole world of possibilities for corruption and legal bribery. We have already seen through Bell's actions that companies care less than two farthings for our personal information integrity. If they are offered the chance to make legal money off handing over our details to the police, I think the photocopies would still be warm when they landed on the Minister's desk. I knew you would over-react. People can just leave their cellphones at home! Ah, Dear Reader has a rebuttal! That is true, people could just leave them at home. Ignoring the safety issues by not having the ability to call for help in extreme circumstances, the other hazards this raises is how often in the recent past police officers have been brought up on charges on the evidence of someone's hastily recorded iPhone testimony. We are either going to suffer decreased privacy or decreased police accountability. There is a subsection which outlines how requests must be made only under the umbrella of an Official Police Duty unless the officer really wants the information, like, right now,  in which case it is okay. The information gathered must also be stored, but it is not lawful to use it for any duty other than the original intended duty, unless the consent of the relevant party is obtained, which I consider a small mercy. All in all, I trust the police. I do. I trust the police and I trust the RCMP. So this I can relax with this whole bill since I have no current plans in my schedule to go raise enough hell that the boys in blue would want to track me down, but then the last provision caught my attention: For the purposes of the administration of this Act, the Minister may designate persons or classes of persons to exercise powers in relation to any matter referred to in the designation. Hang on; does that mean the Minister can just pick and choose people to request that  kind of information? And does the subsequent paragraph mean that if an officer can designate a house as a "telecommunications service provider" by considering their router or other "telecommunications data", they can enter any dwelling to ensure compliance with the act, including reading any documents, opening anything (Hey! My cookies!), and using any computer? This brooks further investigation. This might be just alarmist, but the whole thing stinks on ice.

1 comment:

Friend From Fu said...

At least they didn't just do it. My dad still won't let me say G Bush's name when I call "because they're always listening".