I’m not a lawyer and I don’t even try to play one on TV.
That said, the screed today is one citizen’s view of something that happened with our neighbors to the North and why I think it should serve as an example for us. As has been happening here, the Canadian government is trying to expand the scope of warrantless, voluntary disclosure of personal information via digital. There are bills before the legislature which would permit many of the same activities that have been occurring here for years to go on in Canada. These include the warrantless disclosure of data to law enforcement as well as immunity from any criminal or civil liability for companies that do so. The Canadians are also considering allowing organizations to disclose personal information without consent (and without a court order) to any organization that is investigating a contractual breech or possible violation of any law. Read that carefully – ANY organization – including non-governmental.
The Supreme Court of Canada issued its long-awaited R. v. Spencer decision, which examined the legality of voluntary warrantless disclosure of basic subscriber information to law enforcement. In a unanimous decision, the court issued a strong endorsement of Internet privacy, emphasizing the privacy importance of subscriber information, the right to anonymity, and the need for police to obtain a warrant for subscriber information except in exigent circumstances or under a reasonable law.
Revolutionary? One might think, except we’ve had a similar law on our books for a hundreds of years. It’s called the Fourth Amendment and it protects each of us from unreasonable searches and seizures. It also states the government must have warrants which are specific as to what the search is about. No fishing trips permitted. I’ll wait while the lawyers tell me I’m missing nuance and maybe I am. That said, I’m outraged and sickened by what has been occurring with much regularity over the last 13 years and the fact that companies are complicit in allowing fishing trips by government. It’s just as bad in my book that businesses grab data from users without explicit permission nor do they disclose what data is taken, how it is to be used, and when it is sold to third parties.
Today isn’t meant to do anything except call your attention to the issue. If you’ve not been paying attention to it you should. No one can enter your home without permission or a warrant. Why would you allow them into your digital home without either?