The Canadian government has been trying to modernize its surveillance and wiretapping laws for years now, to take into account the growth of cellphone and internet communications. Canada’s current telephone wiretap laws are more than 30 years old. Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan said in June 2009 that the current legal framework was designed “in the era of the rotary telephone.”
This article by CBCNews provides a brief history of relevant Canadian law and mentions specific laws in other countries.
The big brouhaha, of course, is over two specific bills introduced this week in Canada, C-46 and C-47:
C-46: Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act. Full-text here.
The enactment amends the Criminal Code to add new investigative powers in relation to computer crime and the use of new technologies in the commission of crimes. It provides, among other things, for
(a) the power to make preservation demands and orders to compel the preservation of electronic evidence;
(b) new production orders to compel the production of data relating to the transmission of communications and the location of transactions, individuals or things;
(c) a warrant to obtain transmission data that will extend to all means of telecommunication the investigative powers that are currently restricted to data associated with telephones; and
(d) warrants that will enable the tracking of transactions, individuals and things and that are subject to legal thresholds appropriate to the interests at stake.
The enactment amends offences in the Criminal Code relating to hate propaganda and its communication over the Internet, false information, indecent communications, harassing communications, devices used to obtain telecommunication services without payment and devices used to obtain the unauthorized use of computer systems or to commit mischief. It also creates an offence of agreeing or arranging with another person by a means of telecommunication to commit a sexual offence against a child.
The enactment amends the Competition Act to make applicable, for the purpose of enforcing certain provisions of that Act, the new provisions being added to the Criminal Code respecting demands and orders for the preservation of computer data and orders for the production of documents relating to the transmission of communications or financial data. It also modernizes the provisions of the Act relating to electronic evidence and provides for more effective enforcement in a technologically advanced environment.
The enactment also amends the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act to make some of the new investigative powers being added to the Criminal Code available to Canadian authorities executing incoming requests for assistance and to allow the Commissioner of Competition to execute search warrants under the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.
C-47: Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act. Full text here.
This enactment requires telecommunications service providers to put in place and maintain certain capabilities that facilitate the lawful interception of information transmitted by telecommunications and to provide basic information about their subscribers to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Commissioner of Competition and any police service constituted under the laws of a province.