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Privacy experts disagree with the RCMP that spyware is like eavesdropping.

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Canadian Press

Canadian Press

Sarah Richie

A person uses a cell phone in Ottawa on Monday, July 18, 2022.
on Monday, July 18, 2022 Ottawa. Photo Credits: Sean Kilpatrick /The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Privacy Experts Help Police and Government It said the use of "highly intrusive" spyware must be tightly controlled and the technology should be outlawed for the general public in Canada.

Former Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien told the Commission that he has been using what the RCMP calls "on-device investigation tools" for more than a decade. He said he didn't know he was there.

"With so much public debate about the challenge of encryption [in policing], when I was the Privacy Commissioner, I was given the tools to overcome encryption. It was surprising that we were not informed that the was used," he said.

During his term from 2014 to 2022, Terrien called on Congress to strengthen Canada's privacy laws. In particular, he said privacy needs to be recognized as a basic human right under the law.

Therrien appeared before the House Ethics Committee on Tuesday as part of an RCMP investigation into the use of spyware in his 32 investigations over the past five years.

A senior RCMP official told the committee on Monday that while the technology was new, privacy violations on digital devices were being investigated by police through eavesdropping and surveillance installations. He said it's similar to what he's been doing over the years. camera.

But experts, including Terrien, say otherwise.

"The country, the police have access to everything on that phone," he said.

Sharon Polsky, president of Canada's Privacy and Access Council, said spyware should be made illegal except in specific cases approved by an independent third party.

"It's commercially available to anyone with an internet connection who wants to download it," she said, noting that spyware has been used by human traffickers and intimate partner abuse.

"No one talks about how spyware can take advantage of the shortcomings and flaws of many software programs. In order to do so, the software must be properly tested."

Therrien argued that this technology could be used legally by the police if there was a very compelling public interest, such as in the case of serious crimes. I agree that I can use it.

"If the collection of information is permitted by law, such a level of intrusion may still be legal, consistent with privacy principles, necessary, and It is proportionate to the achievement of compelling government objectives," said Mr Therrien.

But he also said he saw no compelling reason to allow anyone in the private sector to use it.

The director of the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab said that spyware is "like eavesdropping on steroids" and requires more surveillance than traditional eavesdropping, and its use It states that we need a much higher threshold.

Ron Deibert will address the Commission later on Tuesday.

In a prepared statement provided to the Canadian Press, Deibert said what he called the "mercenary spyware industry" was poorly regulated and associated with widespread abuse. said that

He said the industry was a threat to civil society, human rights and democracy and that governments should be transparent about procuring this technology.

Federal Privacy Commissioner Philippe Dufresne told the commission that the Mounties did not notify his office before beginning to use the technology, which he learned through the media.


He called on lawmakers to initiate privacy impact assessments by government departments and organizations when new technologies are introduced that may affect the "fundamental right to privacy." It called for changes to privacy laws that

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