A federal Liberal MP is calling on the Harper government to make good on its law and order agenda by adopting a bill she has introduced on intercepting new communications technology to crack down on crime.
Marlene Jennings, who represents the Montreal riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grace-Lachine, said she thinks theConservatives shouldturn her private member's bill into a government bill to ensure its passage.
It passed first reading on March 23.
Jennings said Bill C-416, the modernization of investigative techniques act, would reduce the ability of criminals, members of organized crime and child pornographers to use new technologies to carry out illegal activities.
"If the Conservatives are serious about making our communities safer and improving policing in the new millennium, then I don't see why they didn't bring it in themselves," Jennings told CBC News Online on Thursday. "I'm offering the bill to them now to take it over."
Under the proposed legislation, it would be easier for police and Canadian Security Intelligence Serviceto monitor private cellphone conversations and communication on the internet.
The bill would require internet companies to give the police confidential informationabout their subscribers. The information, which includes the person's name, address and telephone or cellphone number, would allow the police or CSIS to identify the location of a person's computer.
The bill would also require cellphone and internet companies to add surveillance hardware and software to their networks that wouldgive law enforcement agencies the ability tointercept communications.
According to Jennings, the release of subscriber information would be subject to "rigorous privacy safeguards," which means all requests would be recorded for audit and review purposes. Approval by a judge would be required for interception, which isalready the case underexisting law.
Jennings said her bill is virtually identical to a bill proposed by the previous Liberal government in 2005 that died on the order paper.
That bill, which had the same name, was put together after extensive consultation with more than 300 people.
Wants updated laws
She said the Harper government has yet to update its lawsto allow for the lawful interception of communications in new technologies. Whenthe Toriescame to power, she said it appearedthey might make it a priority.
"Fourteen months later, they still haven't moved on this," she said.
Jennings said she understands that privacy advocates may have some concerns about the bill out of fear that police officers and intelligence agents could abuse the law by accessing information on someone that had nothing to do with a legitimate investigation.
She said she is willing to listen to their concerns but added the bill is important because it seeks to protect children from internet luring and seniors from internet fraud.
"Currently, under the law, police and CSIS can only intercept communications with authorization," she said.
"However, that authorization may be of no effect if companies do not have the technical ability to intercept new communications technology. If adopted, this piece of legislation will ensure that criminals can no longer take advantage of new technologies to hide their illegal activities from the law."
If the government fails to adopt the bill as its own, it will come up for second reading late in 2008, she said.
"I'm quite far down on the order paper."