News Item: Big Brother Watching YOU
(Category: Biker News)
Posted by
Wednesday 28 June 2006 - 13:10:51

Canadian Press

OTTAWA — One of Canada's largest Internet service providers is warning its customers that Big Brother is lurking on-line, with the federal government expected to revive an Internet surveillance bill.

If the legislation is reintroduced, it could allow police unfettered access to personal information without a warrant, experts warn.

Bell Sympatico has informed its customers that it intends to "monitor or investigate content or your use of your service provider's networks and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy any laws, regulations or other governmental request."

Bell Sympatico's new customer service agreement, which took effect June 15, is a clear signal the telecommunications industry expects the Conservative government to revive the surveillance law, said Michael Geist, an Internet law professor at the University of Ottawa.

"Everybody expects it's going to be reintroduced," Geist said in an interview. "If anything, [the new bill] will be a hardened approach."

A spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said no decision has been made on the bill, known as the Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act.

But she noted that Day has spoken to telecom industry officials and legal experts about bringing it forward as early as the fall session.

"We don't know if it will be introduced in the fall, winter or spring," said Melisa Leclerc. "We're working on it."

The act was originally introduced by the Liberals last November, but died on the Commons order paper when their minority government fell shortly after.

Surveillance laws in the U.S. sparked controversy recently after several newspapers reported the U.S. Treasury Department has been secretly monitoring on-line banking activities to track terrorist financing.

Geist said Bell's new customer service agreement shows that Canadian telecommunications companies are already preparing to comply with new on-line surveillance legislation.

Bell Sympatico did not return calls requesting an interview.

Geist fears police will be able to demand customer information from Internet providers without having to make a case before a judge, opening the door wide to an abuse of civil rights.

The recent arrest of 17 men in the Toronto area on terrorism charges proves that Canada already has effective law enforcement tools, Geist argues.

"Authorities were able to investigate and arrest 17 individuals with the laws we have in place," he said. "Even if we do reach the conclusion that we need new laws, we need oversight included in the system."

Geist said police haven't yet made a compelling case to prove why the new surveillance rules are needed.

A spokesman for the RCMP said it would be premature to comment on the proposed legislation, since it has not yet been re-introduced.

[Submitted by Ghost]

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