HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html FBI Official Wants Canada To Adopt Strict Wiretapping
Pubdate: Wed, 28 Apr 2004
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Sarah Staples, CanWest News Service


Police And Spy Agencies Would Be Allowed To Monitor Private E-Mail And
Internet Phone Calls

OTTAWA -- A senior FBI official says Canada needs to follow countries such 
as the U.S. in moving toward stricter Internet and cellphone wiretapping 
laws, or become a "weak link" in what has become a global war on terrorist 

Mike Kirkpatrick, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Criminal 
Justice Information Services Division, said in an interview with CanWest 
News Service that it would be "desirable" for Canada to give police and spy 
agencies authority to tap citizen's private e-mail and Internet-driven 
phone calls, and compel cellphone and Internet service providers to make 
equipment easier to tap.

"Canada is a very strong partner of the United States, and vice versa. I 
think it's desirable that we can get as many places as possible to adopt 
it," said Kirkpatrick, referring to a controversial proposal by the FBI and 
U.S. Justice Department that would enforce similar strict provisions in the 

"You're only as strong as your weakest link, so if you have places that 
don't adopt [such measures] then that's a weak link."

Kirkpatrick was in Ottawa Monday and Tuesday to speak at an international 
conference on cyber security and law enforcement.

The need is urgent in both countries to update so-called "lawful access" 
laws so security forces can deal effectively with an explosion of Internet 
and cellphone telecommunications, and in particular Internet phone traffic, 
known as voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), explained Kirkpatrick.

The FBI and U.S. State Department argue that companies offering telephone 
service over the Internet are increasingly popular with terrorists, who 
believe those transmissions are more technically difficult to tap, and who 
benefit from outdated wiretapping laws that don't apply to Internet calls.

Last week, representatives from the U.S. Justice Department, the FBI and 
the Drug Enforcement Administration provoked a swift, negative response 
from privacy advocates and VoIP entrepreneurs after they asked a Federal 
Communications Commission panel to extend the Communications Assistance to 
Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to Internet service providers.

That law requires telephone companies and equipment providers to configure 
their networks so that phone conversations are easier to tap. Other 
legislation enacted since the terrorist attacks of Sept.11, 2001, allows 
circuit-switched and cellphone conversations to be tapped without a warrant 
under certain circumstances.

Canadian law, meanwhile, doesn't go nearly as far. Right now, CSIS, the 
RCMP and local police rely on a patchwork of laws -- including the Criminal 
Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Competition 
Act -- for powers to intercept communications, and to search and seize 

Security forces can only tap communications with a warrant under limited 
circumstances. And traditional wire-line phone services, cellphone service 
providers and Internet providers aren't compelled to design systems that 
are technically easy to tap.

If the U.S. Justice Department and FBI prevail, Internet service providers 
and others won't just be forced to make their equipment easy to tap. A 
petition sent to regulators last week, and signed by Deputy Assistant 
Attorney General John G. Malcolm and others from the FBI and the DEA, would 
force VoIP entrepreneurs to seek approval from federal regulators before 
they could open for business or expand.
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