Reintroduced law would give wide surveillance power over ISPs

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Canada's small internet service providers are concerned that proposed federal government legislation could drive them out of business.

The legislation, referred to as the “lawful internet access” law, was introduced in the last session of Parliament, but died when Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority government fell in March. Now, with a majority in Parliament, the Harper government has announced plans to reintroduce the act. As written, the legislation would give law enforcement agencies sweeping powers to access internet subscriber information without a judicial warrant. ISPs would be required to maintain technology, such as deep packet inspection applications, to provide real-time data surveillance.

“If a smaller ISP has to make major network changes, it could be game over,” said Chris Tacit, a lawyer representing the Canadian Network Operators Consortium, addressing an ISP conference.

Even the large players are not happy with the prospect of investing in surveillance capability. “We have big concerns about the capital requirements,” said Jonathan Daniels, a regulatory executive with BCE, the parent company of Bell Canada.

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