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Fine line between Net privacy, safety

My cousin gave me some serious summer reading — a disturbing new federal report on child sexual abuse.

My cousin gave me some serious summer reading — a disturbing new federal report on child sexual abuse.

Every Image, Every Child is issued by the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime. It details an international multibillion-dollar child pornography industry.

I was surprised to find out that our police force is handicapped in the pursuit of child abusers.It’s illegal to download and look at child abuse images. But police can’t get at user data very easily. It’s not part of the law to give over computer passwords, or force ISP companies to do so.

The report is calling for new legislation to force us to give our computer password or encryption data to police. It recommends that ISP providers produce customer name and addresses and keep six years of previous search and content data.

Telus’ Craig McTaggart spoke to me about this tough issue. Telus and Bell, which provide 90 per cent of Canada’s ISP addresses, participate in Cleanfeed Canada, which blocks foreign sites of child porn.

Without a court order, it will provide police with customer information for child abuse investigations. This goes beyond legal requirements. But when it comes to collecting and storing years worth of search data, Telus draws the line. “It’s simply not possible for us to obtain that sort of data,” McTaggart says.

Every Child, Every Image is a brave attempt to bring some more teeth to the law.

Like many Telus customers, I’m extremely concerned about my privacy. “It’s a fine line,” says McTaggart.

There can be no finer, or more difficult.

 
 
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