EDITORIAL: Internet bill’s merit dubious

Proposed law goes too far into personal lives without proper checks.

The Conservatives’ proposed online surveillance bill is one of the worst pieces of legislation ever conceived.

Indeed, police need better tools for tracking crime on the Internet, but are we willing to abandon the rule of law and allow unfettered access to personal information?

Currently, police must get warrants in their investigation to balance the conflicting interests of the state and people’s right to privacy.

According to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, to oppose the plan to do away with that balance in Internet cases means we are “standing with the child pornographers.”

It’s just this type of fear-mongering that brands opponents of such legislation in a negative light.

It’s a political strategy to stave off criticism. Toss out the words ‘child pornography’ and we all recoil in horror – reasonable people want this crime to stop.

Then the government will point out child porn crimes have gone up. Statistics Canada’s outline of police-reported crimes in 2010 showed there were 2,190 child porn cases, 36 per cent more than 2009.

It sounds like the police are doing their job already, and finding the criminals or criminal acts.

The attack on child porn in this bill is only a small part of its potential uses. The feds also want to track organized crime. This, despite an almost across-the-board drop in crime rates.

As Internet-based crime continues to be a concern (child porn, scams, bullying etc.), it’s important for police to be able to keep up and get the information they need in a timely manner.

But we shouldn’t abandon the checks and balances in place to ensure the state’s interests do not override our own.