Two Opinions on Lawful Access

Former federal Privacy Commissioner George Radwanski is back with an opinion piece in the National Post on lawful access, while Clayton Pecknold, co-chair of the law amendments committee of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police pens a defense of lawful access in the Victoria Times Colonist.


  1. Pecknold’s piece repeats the common rhetoric that law enforcement use in this argument–that my identity is somehow less private than the content of my communications.

    It doesn’t take too much analysis to realize just how false this is. Identity and content are two sides of the same coin.

    If I’m making an anonymous post on a public blog–say, this one–I don’t care who sees the content of my communications. Unless I have no idea how the internet works, I’m fully aware that the whole world can see the content. That’s the point of my writing. The privacy concern is around my anonymity–my identity. The police could easily figure out the IP address I’m writing this from. In order to protect my privacy, I need to prevent them from using that IP address to identify me as a “real person”.

    The same with email, or web traffic. I’m not so concerned that the police can read the content of an email I sent–I should know full well that the recipient could forward it on. And I’m not concerned that the police know that some unknown person visited a series of websites on civil liberties. I’m concerned about their ability to identify me as the anonymous source of that activity.

    There’s a reason why that information isn’t in the phone book, and it’s not just because we haven’t gotten around to publishing a directory of IP addresses. It’s that we *wouldn’t* publish such a directory (as if it were possible,) because of the legitimate expectation of privacy among internet users.

  2. Isn’t this “lawful access” just the ticket needed by the **AA to start spamming Canadians and the Canadian legal system with the same mass-lawsuits and extortions that choke Americans currently?