Cosh on Lawful Access

Colby Cosh in the National Post on lawful access: "No bogus, ill-advised expansion of state power was ever perpetrated on this continent without "families" being hauled out as part of the pretext."


  1. I’m certainly not a National Post reader, but that was an excellent read. Thank you for the link.

  2. I think the Ottawa Citizen article is a much better read as far as explaining the problems with this bill. Mr Cosh seems to be using it as a thinly veiled excuse to call Mr Harper names. Which is all fun and good, but doesn’t seem to explain the issue to the people who need to know about it before it makes it any further.

  3. All I can say is
    that it is a good thing it was published in the “Opinions” section. Mr. Cosh’s column came across to me as a rant; I was unable to determine if there was anything constructive there, as I found it so hard to read that I couldn’t plow through it all.

    Joe: I agree the Citizen editorial was far better done.

    I can agree with parts of the proposed legislation, but not other parts. The idea of lawful access is fair enough; it has been talked about for over 10 years now. To date it appears to not have been an issue, however access to communications, obtained as a result of a warrant, should be available on any communications channel, not just a select few. This is for a few reasons. First of all, it picks up cases of VOIP phones (I suspect), as well computer video links. Secondly, it enables completeness of evidence. Thirdly, as more and more ISPs try to position themselves as a telecommunications player, they should be following the same rules as govern the incumbents. This means either that the ISPs adopt the capability for law enforcement access for the purposes of wiretap, or that the requirement for Bell et al to support it on landline be dropped.

    Note that I specified warranted access. The provision in the bill that allows the police to access information without a warrant should be dropped. There is no need for this provision. While the bill does, in general, provide for limits on who can request the information for a force (a maximum of 5 or 5% of the officers in the force), the next clause’s provision for, in an emergency any officer can request negates the first one and opens the facility up to even more abuse. The police can, and have, abused facilities open to them in the past (for instance in the recent past providing extra information on potential jurors to the prosecution in some parts of Southern Ontario), there is no reason to believe that some “bad apples” within the force won’t do so again in the future. The requirement to get a warrant provides an important check on the power of the police.