Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart once again concerned about ‘lawful access’

Jennifer Stoddart, Privacy Commissioner has “deep concerns” about budding legislation which will increase police surveillance authorities and right to use confidential information. Stoddart wrote an open letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to criticize the “lawful access” legislation under discussion.

The letter reads: “These bills went far beyond simply maintaining investigative capacity or modernizing search powers. Rather, they added significant new capabilities for investigators to track, and search and seize digital information about individuals.”

Moreover, Canada’s privacy commissioner sounded worried about a suggestion in the previous legislation that would have mandated internet service providers to provide subscriber data to police and national security agencies without a warrant.

She also wrote: “I am also concerned about the adoption of lower thresholds for obtaining personal information from commercial enterprises. The new powers envisaged are not limited to specific, serious offences or urgent or exceptional situations. In the case of access to subscriber data, there is not even a requirement for the commission of a crime to justify access to personal information — real names, home address, unlisted numbers, email addresses, IP addresses and much more — without a warrant. Only prior court authorization provides the rigorous privacy protection Canadians expect.”

Earlier in 2009, Stoddart along with provincial and territorial privacy commissioners wrote to express similar concerns about lawful access legislation to the government.

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