#CyberFLASH: Taxpayers would have to foot bill for new high-tech police powers, wireless industry says

surveillance

Canada’s top telecommunications industry group says any government move to force its members to install equipment to intercept digital traffic and store data to aid police investigations would have to be covered by taxpayers.

“We have always submitted that there should be a mechanism for the government to cover the costs or possibly law enforcement,” said Kurt Eby, director of regulatory affairs and government relations for the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.

“Every time the government looks to add a layer such as this, there is going to be cost incurred.”

The federal government is holding public consultations on Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act, which includes proposals for new investigative powers for police to gather digital evidence.

Police are lobbying for laws that would require telecommunications and internet service providers to retain user data like email, text and call records, and force those same companies to build intercept capabilities into their networks to enable investigators to tap digital communications.

Data Retention

There is currently no regulation to require telecommunications companies to store data for any length of time.

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#CyberFLASH: Police chiefs want law that would force people to reveal passwords

iStock_63192683_MEDIUMCanada’s police chiefs want a new law that would force people to hand over their electronic passwords with a judge’s consent.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has passed a resolution calling for the legal measure to unlock digital evidence, saying criminals increasingly use encryption to hide illicit activities.

There is nothing currently in Canadian law that would compel someone to provide a password to police during an investigation, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Joe Oliver told a news conference Tuesday.

Oliver said criminals — from child abusers to mobsters — are operating online in almost complete anonymity with the help of tools that mask identities and messages, a phenomenon police call “going dark.”

“The victims in the digital space are real,” Oliver said. “Canada’s law and policing capabilities must keep pace with the evolution of technology.”

The police chiefs’ resolution comes as the federal government begins a consultation on cybersecurity that will look at issues including the best way to balance online freedoms with the needs of police. The consultation runs until Oct. 15.

Police demands for access to online communications and the concerns of civil libertarians about privacy rights have created tensions around the globe in recent years.

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