Ottawa police to stop using cellphone tracking software for police-issued weapons
Police in Ottawa will no longer be able to track cellphone users using the technology, as part of a pilot project by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.
The department said Monday that the technology will no more be used to track an individual’s location or to identify them in the event of a police-involved incident, a move that will make the system far less invasive and more useful.
Officers will no long be able use the technology to identify an individual or to make a report on their movements, according to a statement.
“As of January 1, 2018, the use of cell phone tracking technology will be discontinued as of March 1, 2020, and officers will not be able access the data,” the department said in a statement issued to the Star.
However, the department will continue to use existing technology and other investigative tools to investigate a case and provide relevant information to the police service.
As a result, officers can still access the information they are authorized to access, and will continue the use and tracking of cell phones.
In a statement, Ottawa Police Association president David Blackwood said he was disappointed by the announcement.
Blackwood said the association had long advocated for a more intrusive form of tracking.
He said it would also have been helpful for the department to make the decision about whether to use it as early as possible.
At the same time, he said, the decision to stop the use “is a necessary one” to avoid duplication of efforts, which could result in more problems later down the line.
It is unclear whether the decision was a reaction to concerns raised by a new privacy advocacy group called Privacy Watch.
The group, which describes itself as “an open forum for citizen-based privacy issues,” said Ottawa police had used the technology for more than a year without the consent of the association.
Privacy Watch was launched after it filed a complaint with the Canadian Privacy Forum, a Canadian organization that promotes transparency and accountability in privacy practices.
Pamela DeMarco, a privacy expert at York University in Toronto, said the decision by the government to phase out the technology is “a significant setback” for the privacy of Canadians.
She said the use is already widespread and widespread, and the RCMP already tracks cellphone location data.
DeMarco said the RCMP should have made the decision in 2013, when cellphone tracking was the subject of a federal court challenge in which the government argued it was not appropriate because it was against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
But the court agreed that the RCMP could continue to track people’s cellphone location even after the 2013 ruling.
With files from The Canadian Press