#CyberFLASH: Should police see your data? Think about it says Goodale

goodale.jpg.size.custom.crop.1086x713OTTAWA—Canadians need to think about how far police should be allowed to go in accessing their electronic devices and communications, the federal public safety minister says.

A federal review of cybersecurity will provide a chance to discuss a proposal from Canada’s police chiefs for a new law that would compel people to hand over passwords with a judge’s consent, Ralph Goodale said Wednesday.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police says the measure is needed to fight criminals in cyberspace who increasingly use tools to hide their identities and communications.

In the United States, there are literally thousands of smartphones and other digital devices “sitting on shelves” because authorities can’t get into them, said Terrence Cunningham, a police chief in Massachusetts and president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

“And we know that those devices hold the answers to the questions that we need so that we can hold people accountable and prosecute some of these cases,” Cunningham said during the Canadian chiefs’ annual conference this week.

After a speech Wednesday to the gathering, Goodale acknowledged that smartphones contain a wealth of personal data and can reveal much more about a person than an ordinary physical search might.

But he added that while Canadians value their privacy, they also want police to have the necessary tools to investigate crimes. “I think Canadians recognize the imperatives on both sides.”

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