Amidst rapidly shifting geopolitical sands, Canada and the United States revealed plans on Wednesday to work more closely in the nebulous world of Online Safetyincluding a long-awaited deal that will make it easier to navigate each other’s privacy laws during criminal investigations.
A detailed set of shared cross-border common interests, including cybercrime, human smuggling and the illegal arms trade, emerged overnight from the resurgent Cross-Border Crime Forum, a bilateral meeting that opened in 1997 but has been dormant since 2012.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and Attorney General David Lametti attended the meetings in the US capital, the centerpiece of which was the start of formal talks to bring Canada under the umbrella of the law clarifying the lawful uses of data in Canada bring overseas (CLOUD).
Completing a deal “would pave the way for more efficient cross-border data disclosure between the United States and Canada so that our governments can more effectively fight serious crime, including terrorism,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
The primary goal, Garland said, is to improve public safety in both countries while protecting the privacy and civil liberties of Americans and Canadians.
“By increasing the effectiveness of investigations and prosecutions of serious crimes … we aim to improve the safety and security of citizens on both sides of the US-Canada border.”
The CLOUD Act, passed in 2018, created a “new paradigm” according to the US Department of Justice: “an efficient, privacy and civil liberties-preserving approach to ensuring effective access to electronic information through executive agreements between the United States and trusts with foreign partners .”
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Such agreements are intended to remove legal “barriers” that prevent ISPs, subject to US law, from releasing electronic evidence in response to a court order. The US already has CLOUD deals with Australia and the UK. Other jurisdictions with strict data protection rules, such as the European Union, are at odds with the DOJ approach.
The US has reportedly complained to Ottawa that Canada’s privacy laws can prevent authorities there from notifying their American counterparts when convicted sex offenders travel south, although similar information is routinely shared the other way.
Leading law enforcement agencies in Canada have also been urging the federal government for years to enter into data-sharing agreements with the United States that would make it easier for investigators in both countries to track arrests and convictions in a variety of crimes.
The Transnational Crime Forum, reinvigorated under the terms of the bilateral “roadmap” for cooperation agreed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Joe Biden in February 2021, appears to have finally opened the door.
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And not a moment too soon, said Karen Eltis, a law professor at the University of Ottawa who specializes in privacy law, e-commerce and cybercrime, as well as the myriad issues that surround the geopolitically borderless nature of the internet.
The sheer volume of communication and commerce happening online today requires a different approach to combating criminal activity that leaves its digital breadcrumbs — crucial evidence for investigators — around the world, particularly in the United States, Eltis said.
“It used to be all about territorial borders,” she says. “We need to understand that the kind of laws we were used to, which were limited to a specific territory, are no longer relevant to the digital age.”
Privacy concerns are legitimate and form an important element of the discussion, she added. But it’s high time the debate faced the reality of how the internet works – especially given the threat of international cyberattacks, which is growing exponentially given the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A summary of the meeting released Wednesday said Mendicino, Lametti, Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas also discussed working together to counter ransomware attacks and “freeze and seize” Russian assets as part of North America’s economic countermeasures against Russia and the president Vladimir Putin have spoken.
Foreign policy experts have been warning for weeks that US efforts to sanction Russia would likely lead to a surge in foreign cyberattacks on American infrastructure, a possibility Biden himself publicly hinted at Monday.
“My administration has again warned that Russia may be planning a cyberattack against us based on new intelligence,” Biden told business leaders. “The scale of Russia’s cyber capability is quite consequential, and it’s coming.”
That threat adds another wrinkle: In autocratic countries, privacy laws are less of an impediment to cyber action than in the West, Eltis added, citing the words of one of her mentors, former Israeli Supreme Court President Ahamon Barak.
“He said, ‘Democracy fights with one hand tied behind its back, but it still prevails,'” Eltis said.
“A democracy has values that it upholds even when it has to maneuver within constraints. This isn’t just about privacy – not because privacy isn’t important, but there are many other human rights that can be at stake that democracies need to circumvent and strike the right balance.”
The four leaders also discussed efforts to roll back human trafficking and smuggling across the Canada-US border, as well as plans to stem the flow of illegal arms between the two countries.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 23, 2022.
© 2022 The Canadian Press
https://globalnews.ca/news/8705112/canada-united-states-cybersecurity-criminal-investigations/ Canada, US Unveil Plans to Access and Share Data in Criminal Investigations – National