Privacy in Canada is officially dead.
The supreme court of Canada has granted police the power to enlist a power company in monitoring some one’s energy consumption without a warrant in an attempt combat grow-ops.
“The Constitution does not cloak the home in an impenetrable veil of privacy,” Justice Marie Deschamps wrote in the lead opinion. ”To expect such protection would not only be impractical, it would also be unreasonable.”
I find this statement to be truly mind boggling. If ever there was a place where one should have a veil of privacy it should be the home. “Impenetrable” the veil never was, but it shouldn’t be thrust aside by rash decisions either. Privacy in the home can be removed by a warrant which has sufficient evidence to allow police to search a home after indications of criminal activity. The safety mechanism in all this is that the police have to convince a judge, someone who presumably holds justice as their highest priority, that the invasion of privacy is warranted.
Where this stems from is the Calgary police, in 2004 noticed a house which didn’t have snow on the roof, it had condensation on the window and the smell of pot in the air. They then asked Enmax, the power company servicing the house, to install a digital recording ammeter to obtain a detailed printout of the power consumption. The officers then used the information to obtain a search warrant.
Once searched, the police seized 165 kilograms of bulk marijuana and another 206 grams of processed, bagged marijuana and charged the owner, Daniel Gomboc with growing and selling marijuana.
“I was extremely pleased I could be part of a Supreme Court decision that was in favour of police and common sense,” said Roger Morrison.
Morrison left the Calgary police in 2007 to found dTechs, a high-tech company that developed a wireless meter that can detect excessive power use by grow ops.
How lucky for him the court ruled in favor of his business.
While in the case in question it turned out for the police had been correct, who then monitors the police? Morrison suggested that allowing police to go through a utility company it protects the privacy of consumers. He figures this because if the police suspect you have a grow up (you know because there is condensation on your windows, or no snow on your roof) and they see your power consumption is normal, then they won’t need to investigate. Otherwise they would need a search warrant which would be obtrusive, as he puts it “You might as well get a warrant to kick in the door.”
Well Mr. Morrison I will not surrender my privacy for the sake of convenience or the threat of police of police kicking in my door. If the police can monitor my power consumption without a warrant, why not my Internet, my mail, my phone? Where does it end?
And all this for pot? Really? Just fucking legalize it already and start taxing it.
Some of the Supreme court agrees with me, on the privacy part anyway:
Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Justice Morris Fish noted this step was an “incremental but ominous step toward the erosion of the right to privacy.”
“When we subscribe for cable services, we do not surrender our expectation of privacy in respect of what we access on the Internet, what we watch on our television sets, what we listen to on our radios, or what we send and receive by e-mail on our computers,”
“Likewise, when we subscribe for public services, we do not authorize the police to conscript the utilities concerned to enter our homes, physically or electronically, for the purpose of pursuing their criminal investigations without prior judicial authorization.”
Eye weekly has an ongoing feature of some of the unlawful surveillance that Toronto police has done in the last couple of decades, and it is appalling. It is appalling given the number of stories that have come to light of police misconduct, that anyone would grant them more power to investigate individuals without oversight.
Privacy is dead in Canada. Mark my words, today it is your electrical consumption, tomorrow it will be your Internet, then your phone, then conversations in your own home. Soon the only place you will have privacy is in your own mind.