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Canadian Law Enforcement Complains Child Molesters Are Benefiting Most From ISP Subscriber Data Warrant Requirements

from the today-on-This-Old-Rhetorical-Device dept

Ever since the Canadian Supreme Court declared law enforcement needed a warrant or court order to obtain ISP subscriber data, Canadian cops have been complaining. What used to be an “informal” process that required “five minutes” of paperwork (and led to law enforcement requesting ISP user data every 27 seconds), now apparently takes up to “ten hours” and is apparently damn near impossible to complete.

As a result, law enforcement has been forced decided to drop cases in which it couldn’t put together enough probable cause to secure a warrant or court order. For some reason, the affected agencies seem to feel this is indicative of a broken system, rather than the way it always should have been. If an officer doesn’t have enough agency to justify a request for subscriber data, does he or she really have enough information to justify a continued investigation?

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were the first to complain about the warrant requirement, circulating a memo late last year that declared the ruling was probably resulting in dropped cases — although this claim also seemed to be short on supporting information.

“Evidence is limited at this early stage, but some cases have already been abandoned by the RCMP as a result of not having enough information to get a production order to obtain (basic subscriber information),” the memo says.

Apparently, this round of complaints didn’t gain enough traction to motivate legislators to undercut the Supreme Court decision. So, law enforcement officials are trying again, but this time they’re using one of the cheapest and most overused rhetorical ploys: child molesters/pornographers going unarrested.

An RCMP spokesman confirmed the court decision has hampered the ability of police to track down Internet child abusers.

The ruling “has added extra administrative steps to such investigations by requiring police to obtain production orders for basic subscriber information,” said Sgt. Harold Pfleiderer.

“Now, investigations of online child exploitation usually take more time. In many cases, there is insufficient information for police to obtain a production order even with the jurisdictional request information.”

When Pfleiderer says “administrative,” he’s actually referring to the minimal efforts officers must make to ensure the civil liberties of Canadian citizens aren’t violated. To him, it’s just extra paperwork. To the rest of the nation, it’s nothing more than what they’ve generally expected from their service providers when dealing with data requests: that it won’t be handed over without justification.

The RCMP want legislators to pave it an unimpeded path to subscriber data — something the Court’s decision noted was a remedy (of sorts) for law enforcement agencies who felt being asked to respect the rights of others was too much of a burden. And nothing prompts legislators to act quickly and inconsiderately like claiming an untold number of pedophiles are wandering the nation completely unarrested.

The Supreme Court ruling suggested the government could pass a “reasonable” law to allow police to obtain basic subscriber information from ISPs, but a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney indicated that is not yet in the works.

“Our government is currently reviewing the decision,” said Jeremy Laurin.

Adding to the stupidity, a top online porn cop paraphrases Dirty Harry to suggest some citizens should have fewer rights than others, even while still in the mostly-speculative part of an investigation.

“It’s creating a lag in our investigations,” said Sgt. Maureen Bryden of the Ottawa police online porn unit. “It’s taking more time for us to get to the serious investigations.”

“Whose rights do you really think are more important?” she said, criticizing the Supreme Court ruling. “The victim child that’s being sexually exploited? Or the offender?”

Oh, I’d say they’re equally important. The same court decision that “protects” child molesters also protects the millions of Canadian citizens who’ve never committed a criminal act in their lives. But the police want suspects to have fewer rights, even if it means those who aren’t suspects end up with fewer privacy protections.

Bryden cites a “lag” and other quotes say cases can’t be prioritized effectively to allow the pursuit of sexual offenders. But looking at the actual numbers blows any claims about workloads or priorities right out of the water. In 2011, Canadian law enforcement filed nearly 1.2 million requests for subscriber data. The 2013 stats quoted in this article cite a 50% drop off in requests related to child exploitation cases from 2013’s high of 1,038. Somewhere in between there — if request numbers remained largely flat (rather than escalating) from year-to-year — that’s still nearly 1.2 million requests for data every year that have nothing to do with Canadian law enforcement’s sudden foremost concern. I think there’s plenty of room left for shifting man-hours towards preventing child exploitation — even with the warrant requirement.

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Comments on “Canadian Law Enforcement Complains Child Molesters Are Benefiting Most From ISP Subscriber Data Warrant Requirements”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Everyone with a computer has looked at porn at least once. And like most people, we’ve all fallen victim to sites that endlessly pop-up windows of other porn sites some of which is legally questionable…Live and learn.

(I’m not gonna lie, after my indoctrination to web porn in the late 90s (after a long pricey journey through pay per view porn), I only go to one site now (tblop) that has a list of trusted and legal sites.)

So without a doubt, porn-newbs (all ‘1.2+ million’ of them) are going to fall victim at least a few times to illegal content which of course is all being logged by your ISP and various agencies across the globe. Like metadata, everything and anything can be taken out of context. But for law enforcement to lump everyone together is sheer laziness most especially if they’re unwilling to do actual detective work on a case by case basis.

All in all, we’re slowly becoming a pre-crime world and sooner or later, all of humanity will be under arrest…Unless we all start looking at more porn thus stressing them even further? lol

Chris Brand says:

Blurring the lines between "suspects" and "offenders"

Well of course they’re “suspects” rather than “offenders” until they’ve been proven guilty, and the court really just said that you have to have show that you have grounds for labelling them as “suspects”. And sure enough, they can get at this information for people who you can demonstrate that for – they do indeed get less privacy.

So what Sgt. Bryden is actually asking for is that “people we’ve arbitrarily decided to investigate” should have fewer privacy rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Considering how many child molesters seem to end up in government positions of power and are hidden away from the publics knowledge when exposed

Is this just another case of the Canadian cops seeing other countries saying because of “blank” give us more power over citizens without any judicial oversight on how we act because they might do something wrong in the future.

Guardian says:

vic toews said it all

if you dont support warrantless searches you are in support of the pedobears

thats sick and wrong….these sickphants are themselves often found ot be the very pedos society needs to be protected form like his 15 year old baby sitter that a later law made sex with illegal in canada….so there ya have it….

Ninja (profile) says:

Well, tyrants and totalitarian wannabes are benefiting from the lack of safeguards in most modern Governments against overreach. So there is that. Would we rather live in a world without child molestation but with no freedom and possibly plenty of atrocities (see Nazism) or concede that no amount of security will prevent all molestation and actually encourage democracy and other, possibly more effective means of reducing such occurrences?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

A word about child porn.

Even if we were to decide that child porn = porn + child (using whatever previous definition of porn), it gets really difficult to discern on a world-spanning cultural arena what child porn actually is. Let me offer some examples of where definitions of crime and enforcement have gotten ambiguous.

Glamour Model Lindsey Dawn McKenzie debuted in Mayfair Magazine in the late eighties / early nineties. The way the UK worked it then (and probably still does) is to allow photos to be taken of models at sixteen, after which they’re held and published only after a release is signed at age eighteen. Still, in the US, naked non-naturist sixteen-year-olds are regarded as child porn. How did Mayfair handle Miss McKenzie’s debut in the US? By removing (that is, having someone black-out) all texts that suggested she was less than eighteen years of age. I’m not sure of the legality of this maneuver, but the implication is child porn in the US is in the eye and mind of the beholder: If you think it is, it is, and you can be charged with consuming it. Because America.

The Russian Porn Industry does not have the same degree of (dubious) age checks that are required / enjoyed by the United States (put in place to discourage porn production rather than to actually protect minors — I’m sure no medical checks are required so long as your papers look legit.). Practice is to declare as exactly eighteen (birthday yesterday) any from fourteen to twenty-five that can pass as eighteen years old. During the era of the Belavezha Accords and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the most popular schoolgirl ambition (age eleven and up) was wage prostitute. The Russian porn industry has been riding that train ever since.

And of course, art and computer renders vary not just from nation to nation but in the United States, sometimes from county to county within the same state regarding their legality. A cartoon of Bart Simpson having sex is criminal in Australia (Bart is officially 10 and has been for 26 years of the Simpsons series. He was created in 1986 and is voiced by a 58-year-old woman. Fan art — including some porn — depicts Bart Simpson at various ages). And yet, Japan is a font of lolicon which is pornographic and features fictional (drawn) children, or fictional characters that look like children but aren’t. And then, anyone with access to the Source Filmmaker (or Poser or a dozen or so more rendering engines with libraries of customizable human figures) can try their hand at constructing their own fictional porn…with anyone or between any set of characters or persons. And they do.*

* This, incidentally is a good case example of how the juggernaut of progress will not be slowed by people trying to censor 3D gun parts. Just as 3D renderers have made for an amateur porn market, 3D printers will make for an amateur gun-part market. It’s inevitable. Also 3D porn figurines…of ponies.

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