Canada: Section 34 of the Online Surveillance Bill Would Give Orwellian Powers to Government-Appointed ‘Inspectors’
February 21st, 2012
(CBC) – Among other things, the bill requires ISPs to install surveillance technology and software to enable monitoring of phone and internet traffic. Section 34 is there to make sure ISPs comply. So what, exactly, does it say?
Essentially, it says that government agents may enter an ISP when they wish, without a warrant, and demand to see absolutely everything — including all data anywhere on the network — and to copy it all. If that seems hard to believe, let’s walk through it.
First, Section 33 tells us that, “The Minister may designate persons or classes of persons as inspectors for the purposes of the administration and enforcement of this Act.” So we’re not talking about police officers necessarily. We’re talking about anyone the minister chooses — or any class of persons. (Musicians? Left-handed hockey players? Members of the Conservative Party? Sure, that’s absurd — but the bill allows it…)
Next, Section 34 spells out the sweeping powers of these “inspectors.” And, if they sound Orwellian, welcome to the world of Section 34.
The inspectors may “enter any place owned by, or under the control of, any telecommunications service provider in which the inspector has reasonable grounds to believe there is any document, information, transmission apparatus, telecommunications facility or any other thing to which this Act applies.”
And, once he or she is in, anything goes.