In the months to come Canadians will start to get familiar with a small bill called “Lawful Access” (or bill C-52) that is being crammed into the Governments crime legislation. Debate around this bill has already started to heat up in media, online blogs, and with MPs. Basically what Lawful Access will do is allow law enforcement to track and obtain information on any Canadian Citizen online without the due process of a warrant. This means all your personal e-mails, social media profiles, web browsing activities can be actively handed to law enforcement at any time by your internet provider, for any reason. While this bill is being sold to the Canadian public as a means to fight child pornography and terrorism, the reality and effects of this bill might end up actually hindering targeted investigations towards child pornography and terrorism, and could end up being a threat to Canadian National Security, not to mention charter rights.
After 9/11 our US cousins implemented the Patriot Act. This gave law enforcement and the intelligence community unprecedented access to digital and telecom communications on Americans without a warrant. Former US intelligence experts have stated that the level of information flowing through to the intelligence community due to the Patriot Act, is in fact hindering their efforts to go after targeted investigations of known terrorists due to overwhelming amount of man power needed to shift through information obtained on Americans via the Patriot Act.
There have been 2 very well known intelligence failures after the Patriot Act had passed into law. One on Christmas Day in 2009 when a failed attempt by an Al-Qaida operative to bomb a US airliner was foiled by passengers. The other is the failed bombing attempt at Time Square in 2010. PBS Nova has a program called “The Spy Factory” which studied the intelligence failures of 9/11 and what their intelligence community is currently dealing with. I’ve embedded below a relevant section of this program. The full PBS program can be found here.