Full Interview: David Fewer on Lawful Access

david-fewer.png                                                                                                                    David Fewer

For the first part of this week's Spark (episode 156), we're going to look at something called lawful access legislation. Now, I'm not going to lie to you. "Lawful access legislation" sounds like a bit of a snoozefest.  But it's not, I promise.

Lawful access refers to proposed legislation that could grant police new powers to intercept electronic communications. That, as you can imagine, is highly controversial.

The government has tried to pass new lawful access legislation before. The last attempt included three bills: C-50, C-51, and C-52, which all died on the order paper. So, when Parliament resumed this past week, it was widely expected that the government would try to update lawful access again. Privacy advocates were concerned that lawful access would be bundled up with several other crime-related bills, and turned into a single omnibus crime mega-bill.

Indeed, on Tuesday, September 20, the government introduced the Safe Streets and Communities Act. But in that bill, lawful access was nowhere to be seen. Groups like OpenMedia.ca chalked this up as a win, because lawful access will likely be introduced as a separate bill that will receive additional scrutiny.

So that's where we are right now: still waiting for a piece of legislation that could have huge implications for Canadians' online privacy.

As we were putting this week's show together, we had a lot of questions. Why exactly do police feel they need new electronic surveillance powers? Could they really get into my email without a warrant? And what exactly are privacy advocates so worried about? For his take on this, Nora interviewed David Fewer, director of CIPPIC, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic. You can hear the full, uncut interview below, or download the MP3. [runs 14:18]

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