Dear Minister Toews:

Dear Minister Toews:

I read with interest your endeavors to rid Canada of Child Pornography (Tories on e-snooping: ‘Stand with us or with the child pornographers’, 13 February 2012). Clearly child pornography is a crime against the most vulnerable of victims and undermines the very fabric of Canadian society when we stand idly by and permit it to happen.

That said, your bill to require ISPs to provide warrant-free "lawful access" to law enforcement agents is potentially a huge violation of personal privacy. While I am the first to stand with you in condemning those evil child pornographers and to accept that in the battle of the just there will be some collateral damage, it occurs to me that there is an easy compromise to be reached here.

I'll make you a deal.

Modify your bill such that lawful access:
  • can ONLY be provided in cases DIRECTLY under investigation for child pornography and/or terrorism*; and
  • the evidence leading to the requirement for such lawful access must be presented to, and approved by, a judge within 16 business hours of the lawful access demand being placed on the ISP (ie if the evidence would have supported a warrant the police can get one after the fact -- and the evidence collected from lawful access would not be admissible in justifying the warrantless access itself); and
  • any and all information or evidence gathered directly or indirectly without a warrant is inadmissible for any and all other charges which may be contemplated or arise from such information; and
  • that any and all public officials accept personal, extraordinary, total and complete liability for maintaining the secrecy and privacy of this information collected against accidental or malicious release;
...and I'll support your bill. Focus the law against the targets you want to apply it to, don't make a dangerous tool for investigators to get "creative" with. We can balance the requirement of the police to move quickly with the obligations to maintain citizen privacy. Otherwise, I'll have to stand with those who say: Better a goodly number guilty men go free, than one innocent man be wrongly convicted. Which may include the child pornographers. For ours is a country of laws and due process.