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Electronic Surveillance

NCJ Number
Date Published
114 pages
Proposals to reform Canada's 1974 Protection of Privacy Act remove most of the secrecy associated with the administration of electronic surveillance, provide more precise guidelines for judges, and clearly define the rights and duties of participants in the warrant decisionmaking process.
Current legislation requires almost all documents pertaining to wiretap warrant applications to be sealed in a packet by the authorizing judge to protect the identity of informants. This provision removes wiretap administration from public scrutiny and can prevent targeted persons from obtaining the information necessary to challenge an authorization. The Law Reform Commission recommends that all warrant documentation, except that ordered to be withheld, be accessible to the wiretap target. Any material withheld must be under a judge's order in response to a prosecutor's written request for the protection of an informer's identity. Recommendations also suggest subjecting optical devices to the same legal regime as listening devices and empowering judges to place police officers under oath to obtain additional facts pertinent to the warrant decision. Other recommendations are intended to underscore the exceptional circumstances for granting an authorization, to protect the privacy of unsuspected persons, and to prevent ''fishing' expeditions. 278 footnotes.