MONT-TREMBLANT, QUE. -- The federal government will introduce new high-tech crime legislation this fall giving police wider access to the electronic information held by Canadian phone companies, banks and Internet providers.
The legislation will make it possible for police agencies to force corporations to preserve billing information and e-mail trails and hand them over on demand.
Currently, while police agencies can apply to the courts for a warrant, they have no official procedure to ask companies to save or continue collecting data until a warrant can be obtained.
Justice Minister Martin Cauchon announced the legislation yesterday, on the final day of a meeting of justice ministers of the Group of Eight major industrialized nations and their representatives to discuss terrorism and organized crime.
Mr. Cauchon said that, unlike other countries, the government will consult with corporations over how long they would be required to keep such information.
"We need to be sure that we are in a position to access that information quickly," he said. "There must be increased co-operation with the private sector."
One aspect under consideration by Canadian officials is the British model, which does not require police to obtain a judicial warrant to follow a trail on the Internet, although police would still be required to obtain a judge's permission to read data such as e-mail. With data protected from loss, for example, police could notify corporations to hand over information on a certain date.
"It's much better for industry," a Justice official said, "because they won't have the embarrassment of police coming to the door."
The legislation is expected to write into Canadian law aspects of the first international treaty on cyber-crime, signed last November.
Solicitor-General Lawrence MacAulay, who co-chaired the G8 meeting with Mr. Cauchon, said more co-operation is necessary to prevent law enforcement agencies from tripping over themselves, and to help countries co-ordinate the arrest and prosecution of suspected terrorists. One of the recommendations is to give at least 72 hours' notice to other states when one country is about to freeze suspected terrorist funds.
Mr. MacAulay also said countries need to do a better job of seizing criminal funds, rather than just freezing access to them.
And although countries agreed that any link between terrorism and organized crime was not yet a critical issue, he said, "we will have to be on guard to terrorists seeking new sources of funds."
As such, a catalogue of ideas produced at the meeting suggested that countries need to be more willing to produce bank records, and to monitor more closely large cross-border money transfers.
FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. NoNonsense English offers this material non-commercially for research and educational purposes. I believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner, i.e. the media service or newspaper which first published the article online and which is indicated at the top of the article unless otherwise specified.