#CyberFLASH: National security review tries to tackle needs of law enforcement in digital world

160815_iy0oi_rci-cell-phone_sn635OTTAWA— The Liberal government is taking another crack at making it easier for police and spies to gain “lawful access” to telecom companies’ customers’ subscriber information, online activities, telephone conversations, and encrypted communications.

It comes deep into a sweeping discussion paper on how Canada should overhaul its national security laws.

The so-called “green paper,” released Thursday by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, paints a picture of police and national security agencies stymied by technological advancements that terror suspects turn to their advantage, a Supreme Court of Canada decision that requires time-consuming unwieldy warrants for basic Internet subscriber information, and the failure of legislation to keep up with the bad guys.

The Liberal government is broaching the hot button topic more than four years after the Conservatives triggered an uproar when a senior cabinet minister — Vic Toews — accused opponents of siding with child pornographers if they didn’t support a bill to update state powers of electronic surveillance. Amid a storm of criticism and a backlash from privacy advocates, that bill was withdrawn.

This time, however, the Liberal government is making a detailed legal argument in favour of updating its powers in public and inviting Canadians to weigh in.

Goodale did not refer to the lawful access proposals in a news conference in Edmonton meant to highlight that the Liberals are keeping a promise to consult Canadians on changes to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2015, also known as Bill C-51.

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