The Conservative government is preparing sweeping new eavesdropping legislation that will force Internet service providers to let police tap exchanges on their systems - but will likely reignite fear that Big Brother will be monitoring the private conversations of Canadians.The dangers of such powers being placed with law enforcement and the potential for abuses have been made abundantly clear by the experience Americans have had with the Bush administration and the revelations from whistleblowers in the last year. The opposition needs to be on its toes with this legislation and review it with a very skeptical eye. Checks, limits, safeguards, wherever possible need to be inserted, proper Commons oversight included, perhaps sunset provisions with reviews, you name it. If they even get that far. All for a very hard line being taken on this one.
The goal of the move, which would require police to obtain court approval, is to close what has been described as digital "safe havens" for criminals, pedophiles and terrorists because current eavesdropping laws were written in a time before text messages, Facebook and voice-over-Internet phone lines.
The change is certain to please the RCMP and other police forces, who have sought it for some time. But it is expected to face resistance from industry players concerned about the cost and civil libertarians who warn the powers will effectively place Canadians under constant surveillance.
Watch these two whistleblowers and you'll get a sense of how pervasive and invasive government surveillance can become in the name of national security, the pursuit of terrorists, fraudsters, et al.