The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police have signed a resolution calling for the passing of a law that would allow them to access individual’s electronic passwords with a judge’s order.
The association argued that digital encryption was hindering their ability to investigate crimes as criminals were using the technology to hide their illegal dealings. Currently Canadian law has no article that allows law enforcement to insist that someone turn over their personal passwords. The Assistant Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Joe Oliver, spoke at a news conference on Tuesday regarding the matter.
“The victims in the digital space are real, Canada’s law and policing capabilities must keep pace with the evolution of technology,” said Oliver, further expanding on his claims that criminals of all kinds are using the internet and identity masking tools to act anonymously.
However some people are not convinced that Oliver’s proposal is a sound one. David Christopher, a spokesman for the anti-internet surveillance group OpenMedia, said, “On the face of it, this seems like it’s clearly unconstitutional.”
Christopher believes the measure is “wildly disproportionate” as in today’s modern culture handing over your internet passwords could mean giving the police “the key to your whole personal life.”
Police access to online communities has long been a point of contention for many internet users and free speech activists who worry that greater police control may lead to extreme cases of censorship or surveillance. In recent years scandals such as Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks have lead to a lack of trust in the government’s and police’s abilities to monitor information which has caused a great deal of thought to be invested into data protection and privacy laws.
In relation to personal user privacy, Apple’s refusal to crack the iPhone of the San Bernardino jihadist caused massive controversy, however the case was dropped when the government was successful in gaining access to the phone without Apple’s intervention. Many claimed that Apple were standing up for the rights of their users, however others believed that in doing so they were inadvertently protecting the San Bernardino shooter and hindering the investigation.
In Canada’s situation, it was ruled in June of 2014 that police officers must have authorization from a judge to even access someones online activity; whether a similar decision will be made in the case of individual users password and personal data is yet to be seen.
Lucas Nolan is a conservative who regularly contributes articles on censorship and free speech to Breitbart. Follow him on Twitter@LucasNolan_ or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org