With Canada's police chiefs clamoring for new powers that would allow for a massive invasion of our collective privacy, Canadians need to take some time to think critically about our rights and freedoms. As you will see in the following, the first commentator, Rich van Abbe of Toronto, has done just that:
Re: Police chiefs pushing for your passwords, Aug. 17The second letter-writer, Claude Gannon of Markham, is quite happy to surrender his privacy, because he has "nothing to hide":
It’s a bedrock principle of our justice system that no one should be compelled to give evidence against him- or herself.
That makes the demand by Canada’s police chiefs that a law be enacted to force citizens to divulge their computer and phone passwords such an odious suggestion.
There’s no question that authorities engaged in a lawful investigation should be able to obtain warrants from the courts to search suspects’ homes or businesses to seek evidence — even to bust down a locked door if necessary.
But no law requires that a subject of a search tell the cops where evidence may be concealed, or help them retrieve it. Finding it is what detectives are paid to do.
The law the chiefs are demanding might make investigators’ jobs easier, but it would enshrine a perverse violation of the principle of no self-incrimination, one of our most cherished legal protections.
The federal government should slap down this foray against Canadians’ rights in no uncertain terms.
The police want my password? Here it is. I have nothing to hide.Finally, some fitting irony from Randy Gostlin of Oshawa:
The Internet has given criminals and radicalized individuals the possibility to operate anonymously, so the police and other law-enforcement bodies must be given the tools to curtail their activities. If this involves getting a hold of someone’s password, then so be it. Honest citizens have nothing to hide and will support the police.
Of course, civil libertarians and constitutional lawyers are very quick to cite privacy concerns, but safety and security should come first. Look around you: do people really care about privacy? Most of us are quite happy sharing our lives with banks, credit card companies, major retailers, rental companies…and the list goes on. Some people even display their whole lives on Facebook.
Let’s face it, we live in an increasingly dangerous world, and we need to give law-enforcement agencies all the help they need to combat crime and terrorism. If this means the occasional breach of privacy, then so be it!
Perhaps we should just assume everyone’s guilty until proven innocent —except, of course, for police. They’re always innocent.