This weekend’s arrest of 17 people in Toronto on terrorism-related arrests have generated significant worldwide attention. Not to be overlooked are the reports that Internet monitoring played a key role in the investigation. According to the Toronto Star "when CSIS began monitoring the sites allegedly used by some of the 17 men and youths arrested on terrorism-related charges in a sweeping series of raids across the GTA Friday evening, the Canadian spy agency heard enough to remain interested, and increased surveillance of the group. While CSIS and police typically won’t talk about their operational methods, the available techniques range from monitoring electronic communications, from cell phones and landlines to emails and computers, to physically following persons of interest as they move about and talk to others."
If authorities have indeed foiled a major terror threat in Canada, that is obviously welcome news. With lawful access legislation likely on the way, I suspect that the arrests may be used to argue for stronger police powers as this will validate concerns that Canada is a terror target. Of course, the fact that CSIS was already able to engage in significant Internet monitoring leading to 17 arrests (and even drawing praise from U.S. officials) will raise questions about what is inadequate about the current framework.