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Standing Committee Recommends Further State Surveillance Powers

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The House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights recently released its report on the “The State of Organized Crime“.  Among the noteworthy recommendations of the Standing Committee relating to state surveillance powers in fighting organized crime are:

Requiring corporations to disclose information about ownership. The Standing Committee noted that corporations annually disclose the names of directors and officers, including home addresses for those individuals. However, no information is provided about ownership structure. The Standing Committee recommends that federal, provincial and territorial ministers of justice consider amending corporate statutes to require a Corporation to provide annual information regarding its ownership, including the names of shareholders and their addresses.

Expansion of the requirement to report large cash transactions to FINTRAC. In particular, the Standing Committee recommends that automobile dealers, companies operating private ATMs, construction and home renovation companies, race tracks, and law firms be required to report cash transactions of $7,500 or more to FINTRAC.

Requiring telecommunication service providers and device manufacturers to build electronic surveillance/interception capacity into their equipment and networks. The Standing Committee stated that the Criminal Code provisions relating to electronic eavesdropping have remained unchanged since 1974. The Standing Committee expressed concern that there is no Canadian law that requires all telecommunications service providers to use devices that allow for the interception of electronic communications. This capacity is, in the view of the Standing Committee, “essential in fighting organized crime.” The Standing Committee asserted that “when communications can be intercepted, not all telecommunications service providers release standardized information to law enforcement agencies.”

Requiring telecommunications service providers and device manufacturers to decrypt communications or to provide assistance to law enforcement agencies to decrypt electronic communications. Without discussion of the potential effects on citizen privacy rights and legal privileges (e.g. solicitor-client privilege), the Standing Committee recommended that telecommunication service providers be required to assist in the decryption of intercepted communications.

Extending the length of time that a GPS device may be installed on a vehicle. The Standing Committee noted that warrants for electronic surveillance could be extended, in the case of the investigation of organized crime offences, to one year. However, permission to install a GPS device on a vehicle (tracking warrant) could only be granted for a maximum of 60 days. The Standing Committee recommends extending the maximum to one year.