Privacy watchdog concerned about online surveillance
Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart prepares to discuss her annual report before the Commons privacy and ethics committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday October 19, 2010. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand)
Published Friday, October 28, 2011 8:49AM EDT
OTTAWA - Canada's privacy watchdog has serious concerns about the Harper government's plans to make electronic surveillance easier for police and spies.
In a letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart warns against simply resurrecting three previous federal bills to expand surveillance powers.
Stoddart warns the bills, which were never passed, endangered privacy.
The issue pits the desire of intelligence and law-enforcement officials to have easier access to information about people online against the individual's right to privacy.
Stoddart is especially concerned about provisions to let authorities access Internet subscriber information without first getting a court's go-ahead.
She's worried about adopting lower thresholds for obtaining personal information from commercial enterprises such as Internet service providers.
Stoddart adds that the government has yet to show a need for the new investigative capabilities.
Toews office insists the government will strike the right balance between necessary investigative powers and protecting people's privacy.