Vancouver police support Harper government’s attack on Internet Freedom

Lawful Access will unleash sweeping police powers

By Mark Hasiuk, Vancouver Courier January 23, 2012

I spy with my little eye something that is blue, A cop,                                                           online, rogue and warrantless, Spying on me & you.

Sometime soon, in a frontal assault on Internet freedom, the Harper government will table legislation known as “Lawful Access,” which will rob Canadians of privacy online. And we can thank, in part, the Vancouver Police Department, which runs a national pro-Lawful Access campaign out of VPD headquarters on Graveley Street. More on that in a moment.

Lawful Access, a series of Tory bills, will force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to collect and disclose information (name, address, email address) about customers (you and me) to law enforcement (cops and bureaucrats) without a warrant or judicial oversight. And will unleash sweeping warrant powers for police over online communication (emails, Facebook, chat rooms).

To justify Lawful Access, Harper and company fearmonger, conjuring images of terrorists and pedophiles skipping freely through cyberspace. But wait. Canadian cops and courts already own sufficient powers of online investigation. In fact, two years ago, before Lawful Access was derailed by an election, the Harper government failed to prove how current Canadian law—which protects personal information, online and elsewhere—prevents online crime fighting. And now, two years later, they still can’t. So they’re scrambling.

Enter the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, an Ottawa-based lobbying group and Lawful Access champion. As a CACP board member, VPD Chief Jim Chu rarely speaks publicly about CACP business. In an email sent earlier this month to CACP members across the country (and leaked to OpenMedia, a non-profit advocacy group based in Gastown), VPD Deputy Chief Warren Lemcke, also a CACP member, asks for examples where “refusal” by an ISP to provide a customer’s personal information has “hindered an investigation or threatened public safety.” Lemcke continues, spilling the beans: “We are aware that a similar request was made approximately 2 years ago, but the report written at that time lacked a sufficient quantity of good examples… It is imperative that we gather examples that can support the need for this legislation in the eyes of government, privacy groups, media, police and especially the public.”

According to Lemcke, the VPD’s Planning, Research and Audit Section will collect and compile any “examples” for the CACP campaign. Your tax dollars at work.

“The most damning thing about this email is that they basically confirmed that they don’t have any examples and they’re digging for them now,” says Steve Anderson, founder of OpenMedia, during an interview with the Courier. “Lawful Access is a solution in search of a problem.”

Anderson’s right. Despite allusions to online crime, Lawful Access isn’t about crime fighting. Not really. It’s about controlling a new frontier. The Internet remains free and unfettered, relatively speaking, while government squirms on the sidelines. Government agents, notes Anderson, will patrol online chat rooms and public forums if Lawful Access becomes law. “If someone posts something in a forum, and the police are concerned about it, they can go to the ISP and get everyone’s information who’s been on that forum.”

And what happens to our personal information post-confiscation? In an age of cyber-security breaches, how do we know it’s safe? “Some of it will be stored by the ISPs because there’ll be requirements for retaining data,” says Anderson. “But beyond that, in terms of what the police do with it, it’s not clear.”

Democracy requires balance between the rule of law and the rights of citizens. Without proper constraints on government, the tenets of democracy—freedom of expression, freedom to associate—fall away. Those rights apply to all citizens, online or elsewhere.

However, despite the popularity of Google and Facebook, for many Canadians, particularly older folks, the Internet remains foreign territory. A world of porn and trash, devoid of common decency and unworthy of the typical restraints on law enforcement.

That sentiment, fuelled by fearmongering about homegrown terrorists and pedophiles, is what Harper, Chu and their underlings hope to exploit.

But make no mistake. Like all forms of government overreach, Lawful Access targets everyone. And until we abandon democracy and adopt a new form of government, even the worst Canadians have rights.

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One Response to Vancouver police support Harper government’s attack on Internet Freedom

  1. Rwolf says:

    EXPECT MORE GOVERNMENT / POLICE CORRUPTION WITH NO-WARRANT SEARCHES

    The Canadian (Commons Bill C-30) that would among other electronic invasions—give any Canadian police officer without a warrant—the power to request Internet service providers turn over customer information (see section 17 of C-30) will cause the same loss of electronic privacy and civil liberties the British Government recently proposed—to monitor the electronic activity and communications of Brits. Is it coincidence the British and Canadian proposals mirror legislation the U.S. Government said it wanted passed in 2011 to spy on U.S. Citizens? Overlooked by mainstream media is that Britain and Canada signed with the U.S Government an array of (Asset Forfeiture Sharing Agreements) to share with Canadian and British Police/Governments assets seized from Brits and Canadians resulting from evidence or information gleaned from wiretapping and other electronic surveillance of Citizens’ communications, e.g., emails, faxes, Internet activity, Internet actively, phone records including GPS tracking.

    Compare U.S. Government’s proposal to electronically monitor Americans without a warrant—with Canada’s recent Commons’ eavesdropping (Bill C-30) and British Government’s plan to spy on its Citizens’ private communications.

    The U.S. Government wants the power to (introduce as evidence) in criminal prosecutions and government civil trials, any phone call record, email or Internet activity. That would open the door for Police to take out of context any innocent—hastily written email, fax or phone call record to allege a crime or violation was committed to cause a person’s arrest, fines and or civil asset forfeiture of their property. There are more than 350 laws and violations that can subject property to government asset forfeiture. Government civil asset forfeiture requires only a civil preponderance of evidence for police to forfeit property, little more than hearsay.

    If the U.S. Justice Department has its way, any information the FBI derives from circumventing the Fourth Amendment, i.e. (no warrant searches) of Web Server Records; a Citizen’s Internet Activity, personal emails; fax / phone calls may be used by the FBI for (fishing expeditions) to issue subpoenas in hopes of finding evidence or to prosecute Citizens for any alleged crime or violation. Consider that neither Congress nor the courts—determined what Bush II NSA electronic surveillance, perhaps illegal could be used by police or introduced into court by government to prosecute Americans criminally or civilly. If U.S. Justice Department is permitted (No-Warrant) surveillance of all electronic communications, it is problematic state and local law enforcement agencies and private government contractors will want access to prior Bush II NSA and other government illegally obtained electronic records not limited to—Americans’ Internet activity; private emails, faxes and phone calls to secure evidence to arrest Americans, assess fines and or civilly forfeit their homes, businesses and other assets under Title 18USC and other laws. Of obvious concern, what happens to fair justice in America if police become dependent on “Asset Forfeiture” to help pay their salaries and budget operating costs?

    The “Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000” (effectively eliminated) the “five year statue of limitations” for Government Civil Asset Forfeiture: the statute now runs five years (from the date) police allege they “learned” an asset became subject to forfeiture. It is foreseeable should (no warrant) government electronic surveillance be approved; police will relentlessly sift through business and Citizen’s (government retained Internet data), emails and phone communications to discover possible crimes or civil violations. A corrupt despot U.S. Government can too easily use no-warrant—(seized emails, Internet data and phone call information) to blackmail Americans, corporations and others in the same manner Hitler utilized his police state passed laws to extort support for the Nazi fascist government, including getting parliament to pass Hitler’s 1933 Discriminatory Decrees that suspended the Constitutional Freedoms of German Citizens. A Nazi Government threat of “Property Seizure” Asset Forfeiture of an individual or corporation’s assets was usually sufficient to ensure Nazi support.

    Under U.S. federal civil forfeiture laws, a person or business need not be charged with a crime for government to forfeit their property. Most U.S. Citizens, property and business owners that defend their assets against Government Civil Asset Forfeiture claim an “innocent owner defense.” This defense can become a “Catch 22” a criminal prosecution trap for both guilty and innocent property owners. Any fresh denial of guilt made to government when questioned about committing a crime “even when you did not do the crime” may (involuntarily waive) a defendant’s right to assert in their defense—the “Criminal Statute of Limitations” past for prosecution; any fresh denial of guilt even 30 years after a crime was committed may allow Government prosecutors to use old and new evidence, including information discovered during a Civil Asset Forfeiture Proceeding to launch a criminal prosecution. For that reason many innocent Americans, property and business owners are reluctant to defend their property and businesses against Government Civil Asset Forfeiture.

    Re: waiving Criminal Statute of Limitations: see USC18, Sec.1001, James Brogan V. United States. N0.96-1579. U.S. See paragraph (6) at:
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/96-1579.ZC1.html

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