New technologies allow for old crimes to be committed in new ways – OPP Commissioner Lewis

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Ontario Provincial PoliceOrillia – Leader’s Ledger – To All Ontarians: As you may be aware, today’s technologies are providing a safe haven for serious criminal activity in Canada – organized crime, sexual predators, gangs and identity theft are among the many examples.

New technologies allow for old crimes to be committed in new ways, as well as new crimes to develop;
for example, the crimes of identity theft, Internet fraud, phishing and money laundering and the illegal use of viruses, Trojans, worms, hacking, spyware and spam.

The fact is that Canada’s out-of-date legislative scheme was implemented in 1975 during the days of the rotary-dial telephone. Modernization of current legislative provisions is urgently required to reflect significant advancements in communications technologies. Without modemization, the current
legislation challenges police investigative techniques and compromises public safety.

The Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act (Bill C-30) regarding “lawful access” has been receiving unfair criticism across the nation. Some media outlets and some privacy advocates have been portraying it in ways that totally distort the intent of the legislation and the authorities it will provide the police. This may well lead to undue negative public perceptions and concern.

The intent of this legislation is not about violating the rights of Canadians. The police have no desire to monitor email traffic willy-nilly, nor do they want to conduct routine surveillance of people merely surfing the web. The proposed bill is designed to address the challenges encountered by the police when investigating criminal acts posed by changing technology.

Currently, Internet service providers (ISP) and telecommunications companies can and sometimes do voluntarily disclose customer information to the authorities, but they are only required to do so if served with a warrant. The intent of Bill C-30 is to compel Internet service providers and telecommunications
companies to disclose customer information without a court-ordered warrant, but will not include data or content. Actually obtaining the data (email conversations, website access and download information) will still require a court-authorized warrant.

The information accessible release without warant will only include:
Subscriber name;
Service provider;
Address;
Telephone number;
Email address; and
IP protocol address.

It will not:
Allow the police to obtain the content of any transmission without a warrant;
Allow the police to track or monitor people’s surfing habits without a warrant; or
Allow the police to track or monitor cell phone usage without a warrant.

The disclosure of this information reveals nothing personal about the client. If passed, this Act will require the Police Chief or Commissioner to designate a limited number of people within the organization to obtain this information. The police will have to be accountable for the information obtained and may
only use the information for the purpose for which it was requested. Audit procedures must be put into place to explain why the information was requested and what it was used for.

This proposed legislation allows police agencies to demand the preservation of data, not the disclosure of information, but rather a “do not delete” requirement. This will ensure the data collected by the telecommunications carriers is not deleted by company policy and that it will be still available when an
order to comply is signed by the court. It only applies to the client within the order and not other subscribers using those services.

Bill C-30 would add safeguards and notifications for the interception of private communications that presently do not exist. It would compel telecommunications service providers to implement and maintain systems that are “intercept capable.” Criminals and terrorist organizations traditionally have exploited the current legislative shoftcoming as new technologies and encryption features have been developed.

Police agencies will then be able to execute the judicial authorizations and search warrants in a more timely and efficient manner.

It is important to note that this proposed legislation is consistent with legislation with that of Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, and will improve the ability to work with agencies in those countries. Canada is merely playing catch-up here.

To put this into context, if the public or the police observe traffic violations on the highways of Ontario, through a licence plate number that is visible to all, the police rapidly can determine who the registered owner of that car is in seconds, as well as their address and date of birth. However, when conducting
child pomography investigations where children are being lured and/or sexually abused and those images are being traded between online pedophiles and publicly displayed on the Internet for all eternity, the police cannot quickly obtain the ISP information under the current legislation. As well, when the police
acquire an unknown telephone number in an investigation, they can quickly find out the name and address of the person who registered the telephone. In fact, anyone can find out that information through a variety of websites unless the number is unlisted.

But, when investigating the trading of online photographs that detail the horrific abuse of innocent children, which may be your child or grandchild or mine, the police cannot determine the subscriber to the ISP in a timely way so that they can conduct a lawful investigation and obtain email and Internet traffic by walrant. This state of affairs is unacceptable. Legislative reform is necessary so we can rectify the situation by taking proactive steps to limit and stop victimization.

I encourage all Ontarians to become fully informed so we can collectively take a step forward toward a balanced, effective approach to these issues.

Chris D. Lewis
Commissioner
Ontario Provincial Police

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