Ottawa, ON Participants in the Ottawa public forum on proposed lawful access legislation were deeply concerned by the implications of a legislative package that will dramatically expand the surveillance capacity of the state. The new powers aim to put the vast amounts of data recorded as a byproduct of a digital world in the hands of the state with few safeguards.
New unfettered police access to identification data without the need for prior judicial authorization, or even for reasonable grounds to suspect the information will be useful to a criminal investigation;
New powers to order the preservation of online data on a low standard, and at times without prior judicial authorization;
New powers that will allow access to tracking and transmission data on a ‘mere suspicion’ of wrongdoing; and
A general lack of accompanying oversight and accountability to ensure these powers are not abused.
The report puts this legislative package in today’s context of a technological world with vastly more expansive and richer personal data available. It concludes that the legislation “opens up a trove of information to police that would otherwise be inaccessible” and finds the constitutionality of many of its proposed powers “highly questionable”.