Canada Lawful Access Bill and Internet Spying

canada lawful access bill

Will the Canada Lawful Access bill hurt online privacy?

What does the Canada Lawful Access bill propose to do?

Canada’s Conservative political party asserted that it wants to pass a Canada Lawful Access bill, which it claims will crack down on crime. For almost 10 years, there have been failed attempts to pass such a bill but this time there’s a good chance of enacting it into law.

If adopted, the Canada Lawful Access bill would require internet service providers (ISPs) to invest in technologies which would make the real time observation of users’ internet communications possible. Further, ‘Lawful Access’ would mandate internet service providers to provide data to law enforcement officials, regardless of whether or not a warrant was attained, if law enforcement officials claim that a threat to security necessitates their oversight of the internet.

Though intended to decrease criminals’ ability to communicate with one another, many Canadians worry the Canada Lawful Access bill would both give law enforcement a dangerous power with little oversight, and that the cost of developing technologies to monitor users would cost internet service providers a good deal of money.

What are the civil rights concerns about the Canada Lawful Access bill?

Privacy rights activists complain that the Canada Lawful Access bill would have dangerous results if actually implemented into law. For example, the Canadian government would be able to view internet dialogues with basically no restraint whatsoever. Since the law would not require law enforcement officials to get a warrant before searching the personal data of private individuals, many worry the government would take advantage of the information and a subsequent diminishing of individual privacy would result.

Those in favor of the legislation claim the price of safety from criminals warrants individuals to tolerate occasional intrusions into their personal privacy, but many still disagree. Some Canadian privacy rights advocates contend that no crimes have evaded justice yet because of law enforcement officials’ lack of ability to access private internet communications. Of course, it’s difficult to support or rebut such a contention without evidence.

What are the financial concerns about the Canada Lawful Access bill?

If passed, the Canada Lawful Access bill could also impose a burden on internet service providers and force some smaller internet service providers out of business. The law would require internet service providers to purchase technology to monitor activity on websites accessed by their clients. Many large internet service providers would not be put out of business, but some smaller internet service providers, unable to pay for the new technologies, could suffer.

Perhaps, however, internet service providers that do survive the financial results to follow implementation of the bill would pass the cost of the technology off to consumers. This could result in a de facto tax on the Canadian people who, unbeknownst to them, must pay a higher price for internet services. Intended to cut down on crime, the Canada Lawful Access bill might just suffer a vigorous battle and massive civil disobedience if implemented.

Author Mike Young, Esq.

Mike Young has been practicing business and technology law since 1994 and is an angel investor in startups. He's been an entrepreneur since 1988. To get legal help from Attorney Young, click here now or call 214-546-4247 to schedule a phone consultation.

More posts by Mike Young, Esq.