Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday August 23, 2016
Police chiefs want new law that would compel people to reveal passwords
Canada’s police chiefs want a new law that would force people to hand over their electronic passwords with a judge’s consent.
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has passed a resolution calling for the legal measure to unlock digital evidence, saying criminals increasingly use encryption to hide illicit activities.
There is nothing currently in Canadian law that would compel someone to provide a password to police during an investigation, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Joe Oliver told a news conference Tuesday.
Oliver said criminals — from child abusers to mobsters — are operating online in almost complete anonymity with the help of tools that mask identities and messages, a phenomenon police call “going dark.”
“The victims in the digital space are real,” Oliver said. “Canada’s law and policing capabilities must keep pace with the evolution of technology.”
The chiefs’ proposed password scheme is “wildly disproportionate,” because in the case of a laptop computer it would mean handing over the “key to your whole personal life,” said David Christopher, a spokesman for OpenMedia, a group that works to keep the Internet surveillance-free.
“On the face of it, this seems like it’s clearly unconstitutional.”
The police chiefs’ resolution comes as the federal government begins a consultation on cybersecurity that will look at issues including the best way to balance online freedoms with the needs of police. The consultation runs until Oct. 15. (Source: CBC)