Federal ‘tough-on-crime’ legislation takes aim at civil liberties


By Ian Mulgrew
Vancouver Sun
June 7, 2011

The Conservative government’s omnibus “tough-on-crime” legislation should be redubbed “tough-on-civil-liberties” if it embraces all the last Parliament’s law-and-order leftovers.

Aside from concerns over the radical change to the country’s approach to crime-and-punishment, some of the proposals run roughshod over privacy rights and individual liberties.

For instance, the “lawful access” bill has measures — such as the authorization for warrantless searches by police of Internet use — that trample on constitutional protections and go too far.

Under the rubric “Investigative Powers of the 21st Century,” the proposal would require service providers to disclose customer information without prior judicial approval and provide law-enforcement access for “real-time surveillance.”

Similarly, the criminalization of hyperlinks to “hate” sites and using a pen name on the Internet also raise concerns.

The country’s privacy commissioners and ombudspersons were so taken aback when these provisions were unveiled they joined forces to oppose them.

“The feds are really trying to sneak this one past us, because they really don’t want to have the debate,” said Vincent Gogolek, executive director of the non-profit B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association.

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