Mobile phones are a popular means of communication, especially for those living in remote areas where communications are slow and unreliable.
But now some Canadians say they are worried that the devices are increasingly being used to commit crimes and harass and intimidate people.
One example is the case of a Canadian woman accused of sending threatening texts to two women, including one who is a former model.
The accused also sent an email that said she would kill one of the women and a friend.
It was all sent through a smartphone.
“We have the worst of cellphone surveillance technology and we have the greatest potential for abuse,” said John Besser, who heads the RCMP’s Cyber Crime Unit.
“There are lots of devices out there and we need to be careful.
We need to think about it in a much more careful way.”
Bessers unit is investigating an incident in Nova Scotia in which two people were arrested and charged after a man and a woman were allegedly subjected to harassment and intimidation online by a person using a cellphone.
In that case, the accused is also facing harassment and extortion charges.
He is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.
“It’s a scary situation and it’s scary that people are taking that route,” said Robyn McLean, who works for an advocacy group called Cybersecurity Nova Scotia.
“If they’re going to go out and take advantage of this technology, there needs to be laws to address it.”
McLean said the police are looking into whether it is possible for the accused to have the device with him or whether he can be located.
Besssers unit and the RCMP are working with the RCMP to identify and track down the person using the phone, so they can be prosecuted.
The RCMP said the cellphone tracking technology is only being used for investigations where there is a real threat to the public, such as when police are investigating a crime.
The device used by the accused in this case was not a police device and was purchased by the RCMP for personal use.
“The RCMP has a robust network of surveillance technology, and we work closely with the provincial and federal governments on this technology,” said RCMP Public Safety Coordinator Const.
Greg Brown in an email.
“But we have to be mindful that not all jurisdictions have the same requirements or policies.
As such, some jurisdictions may be able to track down a suspect in their jurisdiction by using a specific mobile device.”
A spokesman for the Nova Scotia Public Safety Department said there was no evidence to suggest the device used in the incident was being used in any way to commit a crime in Nova Scotia.
But the spokeswoman said the department is concerned that people may be taking advantage of the technology to harass people.