Excalibur Online :: Citizens to foot the bill for CSIS
Citizens to foot the bill for CSIS Print
Written by Lindsay Pinto - Contributor   
Wednesday, 30 November 2005

A new bill to be introduced by Parliament could give security agencies new powers of surveillance

If you've been keeping pace with the news lately, you might have come across something rather interesting that was recently announced on various news outlets. The federal government has introduced a bill to make it easier for police and Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to monitor private cell phone conversations and communication over the internet.

It is not surprising that worldwide, intelligence agencies and law enforcement have been on high alert since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The prime concern of these organizations is that criminals linked to organized crime and potential terrorists are taking advantage of the internet and cell phone technologies to communicate. We Canadians, according to police and intelligence agencies, are particularly vulnerable to these activities since we lack the ability to keep tabs on would-be criminals and terrorists. We simply do not have the surveillance technology built into our networks that allow these things to be tracked.

Like the wiretap law that's just a fancy way of saying someone could eavesdrop on our land-line phone conversations, the surveillance bill is supposed to allow the police and intelligence agencies to watch, track and listen in on our private conversations. Why sugar coat what is being done?

Our freedom of speech and communication is in danger of being infringed upon and it gets worse when we pay for it even when we don't want to. What am I talking about, you ask? Well, believe it or not, if this new surveillance bill is introduced and passed as intended, your cell phone and Internet bill is going up a couple bucks.
Why? It's simple.

All that tracking technology costs money. The best part of it is that you might be forced into paying that tracking fee indirectly, as part of your access fee. There is nothing more nauseating than tossing a couple more bucks down the drain for a project that will probably do nothing to help society as it stands right now. Sure, we might catch a few criminals, potentially, but will the output be double the input? If not, then all business students will agree the plan needs to be scrapped. 

The law states that one is innocent until proven guilty. Why should Canadians have to feel as if they need surveillance, people eavesdropping on their conversations and police sifting through their private e-mail? It is a futile attempt to make sure that all the stuff that goes through is "non-threatening", according to their standards of course.

If the police want to track criminals or if intelligence agencies suspect a particular person, they should bring justifiable material and evidence forward. I'm talking about proof that allows them to get a warrant or authorization to access this person's information. Otherwise, they have no right.

Whether you agree or disagree, it is certainly something to think about. It will be interesting to see what takes place in the next week or two in regards to this bill. When it comes to a question of infringing on people's privacy, a sensitive issue to be sure, it's important for it not to be taken as a joke, or brushed aside. Instead, it is something to seriously consider, and if need be, challenged.
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