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    CBC (Canada): Privacy watchdog reiterates lawful access concerns

    CBC News reports on privacy questions from Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart about proposed legislation:

    Canada’s privacy commissioner says she has “deep concerns” about potential legislation that would boost police surveillance powers and access to private information.

    In an open letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews on Wednesday, Jennifer Stoddart reiterated her criticisms of “lawful access” legislation introduced in the last session, and said she felt it was important to set them out again before the government reintroduces such provisions.

    The previous lawful access bills — C-50, C-51 and C-52 — “would have had a significant impact on our privacy rights,” Stoddart wrote.

    “These bills went far beyond simply maintaining investigative capacity or modernizing search powers. Rather, they added significant new capabilities for investigators to track, and search and seize digital information about individuals.” […]

    When asked to respond to Stoddart’s letter, Toews said in a statement, “As technology evolves, many criminal activities – such as the distribution of child pornography — become much easier. We are proposing measures to bring our laws into the 21st century and provide police with the tools they need to do their job.”

    The statement added that the government believes its approach “strikes an appropriate balance between the investigative powers used to protect public safety and the necessity to safeguard the privacy of Canadians.”

    However, Stoddart wrote that “no systematic case has yet been made to justify the extent of the new investigative capabilities” proposed and show that less “privacy invasive” alternatives won’t work.

    Nor has there been any evidence provided that police can’t perform their duties under existing law, she said.

    “If the concern of law enforcement agencies is that it is difficult to obtain warrants or judicial authorization in a timely way,” she added, “these administrative challenges should be addressed by administrative solutions rather than by weakening long-standing legal principles that uphold Canadians’ fundamental freedoms.” […]

    Anticipating the reintroduction of lawful access legislation, many privacy and consumer advocates and opposition politicians have been speaking out and lobbying against the proposals in recent months.

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