Computer Crime Research Center


Computer crime specialist welcomes internet controls

Date: June 22, 2009

The Guelph Police officer whose job it is to track down criminals on the internet welcomes the call for increased police powers.

Det. Const. Bruce Hunter of the Guelph Police technological crimes section said anything that helps in the fight against internet crime, and in particular child pornography, is a plus.

His comments came the day after the Conservative government introduced two bills aimed at giving police increased access to private internet communications.

"It's been a long time coming. There's been discussion in the past on amending these laws," Hunter said yesterday.

"It's been on the horizon for awhile."

He said it's important for the laws to keep up with the technology that criminals are using on the internet.

"As technology marches on, it's becoming more and more advanced. The ability to hide in cyberspace or on your own computers is out there," Hunter said.

"It's becoming increasingly difficult for us to conduct thorough investigations when they hide things in a virtual world."

Hunter said police investigating cases of internet child exploitation have had certain powers to gain internet service provider address information for some time.

These proposed new laws would enhance that.

"There's things in place now, for child pornography offenses, that we are able to use right now. This just kind of entrenches it," Hunter said.

What the new laws would do is make it easier and quicker to investigate all internet crimes, including threats.

"In the United States they only need a subpoena. In Canada we need a search warrant in a lot of cases, and that takes a lot longer," he said.

Hunter said "it's also a tracking tool" for child pornography. "If you had two people exchanging child pornography images, you could get their ISP (internet service provider) information and log where it came from."

The proposed new legislation would:

enable police to access information on an internet subscriber, such as name, street address and email address, without having to get a search warrant.

force internet service providers to freeze data on their hard drives to prevent subscribers under investigation from deleting potentially important evidence.

require telecommunications companies to invest in technology that allows for the interception of Internet communications.

allow police to remotely activate tracking devices already embedded in cellphones and certain cars, to help with investigations.

allow police to obtain data about where internet communications are coming from and going to.

make it a crime to arrange with a second person over the internet the sexual exploitation of a child.

Opponents of the proposed changes have complained that they could be an infringement on privacy and personal freedoms.

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