Yesterday I received the following email, from Andrew Philips of the Libertarian Party of Canada.
I’d love to know what lawyers and techies make of this:
Two articles this week have me more than a little apprehensive these days.
First Barbara Hall wants to extend the powers of the OHRC to interfere (edit/delete/ban/censor) journalists and what they write in Ontario and what the newspapers can print through a National Press Counsel.
And this article (…) where the police do not need a warrant to tap into your ISP and your IP address.
They are trying to use the argument that it is nothing more than a listing like a phonebook. Nothing could be further from the truth and it shows in that the police have to get a search warrant to be able to investigate people’s phone records.
As for the phonebook argument ask your self this question are all the phone numbers for cell phones in Canada in a public listing – no they are not? A phonebook listing contains only the land lines that are part of the Bell network.
When they apply for a search warrant the police have to show that there is evidence of sufficient scope and nature to convince a judge that one should be issued; that a particular individual is engaged in what is deemed a criminal activity.
In this instance child pornography [sic] now catching these people is a laudable goal and I salute their efforts in catching these people and putting them away, preferably for life. However another argument I point out is that by not concentrating on a particular individual because evidence points them in that direction the police forces would be dissipating their efforts by potentially watching everybody the vast majority who are not engaging in criminal activities. This is a waste of precious resources in time and effort that would be targeting people for no reason; with no evidence to back up the time and effort put into it.
But everyone must remember that your personal IP address is inside your personal residence, your home, for the most part and if they want to physically enter and do a search they have to get a warrant to do so.
If an individual is suspected of criminal wrong doing the police are fully justified in conducting an investigation to gather evidence for potential criminal charges to be laid. Sometimes they have to enter a place of residence and to do that they need a search warrant; well in Canada they did up until Feb 13, 2009. Now just because you cannot see them it doesn’t mean they won’t be there in the future.
In Ontario the state is coming more and more to be represented by people like Barbara Hall and this ruling will now not only have the rogue Human Rights Commissions potentially on your backs. She’ll potentially have the power to have the police to do her dirty work for her. After all the Federal Human Rights Commission was caught doing the same thing and both the RCMP and Office of Privacy Commissioner found nothing even though the evidence proved otherwise.
I suggest you write to your member of Parliament and let them know you object to this ruling and the very real assault of privacy it represents. Very few people, thank God, are trafficking in child pornography and it should not be used as an emotional excuse to potentially have everyone under surveillance all the time.
When you enter into a contract with an ISP to provide your internet service you do so with the idea that all they are providing is the gateway on to the internet. They need your physical address for billing purposes and nothing more. The ISP’s are not there to provide information to third parties who are not part of the original contract; especially the police.
As it is with this well intentioned ruling Judge Leitch has opened up a can of worms concerning the invasion of privacy by the state and the few limits we have to guard against it. Sure it’s a well intentioned ruling and as the old saying goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Positively Orwellian when you consider the implications for being watched by the state – and the likes of Barbara Hall.
Andrew Phillips – Libertarian Party of Canada – Ontario Libertarian Party