Canadians ‘reluctant’ to accept new police powers, prefer privacy online, government finds – Technology & Science

Last fall, the government asked Canadians to weigh in on the future of the country’s national security legislation.

It was, in part, a response to outcry over elements of the controversial anti-terrorism Bill C-51, parts of which the Liberal government has promised to repeal.

On Friday, a report summarizing the results of the consultation was released, with one topic in particular drawing considerable attention: what sort of powers should law enforcement and intelligence agencies have when investigating crimes in the digital world?

Police have called for warrantless access to basic subscriber information, arguing that it is too difficult to obtain from telecom companies in a timely manner, and said that encrypted communications have made their investigations more difficult.

‘Significant appetite for reform’

There have also long been calls for so-called lawful access legislation — a legal requirement that all telecommunications providers install interception equipment on their networks — and a requirement that phone and internet companies retain certain types of data to assist police in criminal investigations.

But it seems that Canadians — at least, those that participated in the government’s consultation — generally disagree.

“Most participants in these Consultations have opted to err on the side of protecting individual rights and freedoms rather than granting additional powers to national security agencies and law enforcement, even with enhanced transparency and independent oversight,” the report reads.

“The thrust of the report suggests that there’s significant appetite for reform,” said Craig Forcese, a law professor at the University of Ottawa who has written extensively on Bill C-51 — in particular, “a significant appetite for limiting state power in terms of the sorts of powers that security services have.”

What did Canadians have to say?

The government received 58,933 responses through an online questionnaire, and another…

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