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Ottawa, November 25, 2002 - The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, George Radwanski, commented on the "Lawful Access" proposals in a letter to the Honourable Martin Cauchon, Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable Wayne Easter, Solicitor General of Canada, and the Honourable Allan Rock, Minister of Industry.
In his comments, the Commissioner emphasized the fundamental importance of the proposals, suggesting that "Under the so-called "lawful access" proposal that the federal government has put forward, our use of the Internet and our electronic communications would be subject to unprecedented scrutiny. If Canadians can no longer feel secure that their Web surfing and their electronic communications are in fact private, this will mark a grave, needless and unjustifiable deterioration of privacy rights in our country."
He elaborated further by stating that "Agents of the state in Canada cannot order Canada Post to photocopy the address on every envelope we send, nor can they order bookstores to keep a record of every book we buy, let alone of every page of every magazine we leaf through. There is no reason why they should be able to exercise such powers with regard to every e-mail someone sends or every Web site he visits. if the police or security services want to examine the online or wireless communications of any individual whom they suspect of serious wrong-doing, they should only be able to do so in the same manner that now exists with regard to other forms of communication. They should be required to obtain a judicial order, based on the same standard of proof as applies to other forms of communication, authorizing them to intercept that individual's online or wireless communications."
In conclusion, the Commissioner emphasized: "I do not see any reason why e-mails should be subject to a lower standard of protection than telephone calls or letters. And I do not see why Internet browsing should be subject to a lower standard of protection than book purchasing or researching in a reference library. Canadians should not be subject to greater monitoring or scrutiny just because they choose to use new communications technologies."
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The Commissioner's letter is attached. For more information, please contact:
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Tel.: (613) 995-0103
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