09 June 2006

The Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act (MITA)

As the Canadian terror plot unfolds, financial district operational risk managers and contingency planners are hard at work. Targets including the Toronto Stock Exchange, an unspecified military installation and the headquarters of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service were at the center of the plan.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced Saturday that authorities had foiled a terrorist attack and said 12 men and five teenagers had obtained 3 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, three times the amount used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

But some police later said that although the suspects had sought to obtain ammonium nitrate, they actually had been delivered a safe substance instead during a sting last Friday.

According to court documents cited by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 20-year-old Zakaria Amara led efforts to buy enough ammonium nitrate through sellers on the Internet to make three truck bombs and had obtained a remote triggering device that investigators found at his home in Mississauga, just west of Toronto.

And the legislators are listening now to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and other risk managers about reviving the "Modernization Investigative Techniques Act" (MITA). Even though this plot was interdicted, there may be back up operations in place. This new bill will give the investigators with greater tools to do their job and keep Canadians from the same fate as those in Oklahoma City and New York. In both cases, an Ammonium Nitrate truck bomb was used to inflict hundreds of casualties and hundreds of millions in lost property.

Police have credited Internet surveillance with playing a key role in last week's arrests of 17 terror suspects who are alleged to have plotted attacks in Toronto and Ottawa.

Police and intelligence officials have insisted that their technological capabilities have not kept pace with new technologies used by terrorists and organized crime, and have asked for the law to require telephone and Internet networks to build in quick and easy access for wiretaps and surveillance.

The Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act (MITA) is intended to ensure that telecommunications service providers build and maintain an interception capability on their networks that allows for the lawful interception of communications by law enforcement agencies and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

Similar legislation is already in place in many countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Australia. This Act will also require service providers to provide subscriber contact information upon request and in accordance with strict privacy safeguards.

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