The end of a controversed Canadian “government-spying” bill

By: Michel Leclerc

 

The recent debate over the Canadian “Bill C-30” shows us how fierce the discussions surrounding governmental data mining can be. This bill, also known as the “Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act“ was abandoned in February 2013, one year after it was first introduced. As the name of the bill shows us, governmental efforts to increase security and improve law enforcement can often be at odds with basic individual privacy interests. And the debate can be loaded with emotions : Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews did not hesitate to offer a blunt alternative to one of his political opponents : « He can either stand with us or stand with the child pornographers ». Another proof that the effort towards more efficient monitoring of criminal activity can seriously threaten basic privacy rights.

 

Two key provisions were indeed at stake in Bill C-30. First, it was allowing governmental authorities (such as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to have access to Internet susbscriber information without any warrant. This information included name, address, telephone number, email address and Internet protocol (IP) address.

Second, Bill C-30 would put Internet providers under the obligation to have systems that allowed police to intercept and track online communications. This technological obligation

 

The entire bill can be found under the following link:

http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=5380965&File=19

 

The large public protest against this bill reflected in many blog posts caused Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to abandon this project. However, as an article points out (http://rt.com/news/canada-kills-surveillance-bill-992/), some future battlegrounds exist concerning the interaction of law enforcement and privacy rights. In Canada, Bill C-12 would allow Internet service providers, email hosts and social media sites to voluntarily share personal information about their clients with the police. It still stands on the parliamentary docket. In the United States, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Bill (CISPA) is being reintroduced in the House of Representatives. Its key provisions are similar to those contained in Bill C-30 (http://rt.com/usa/cispa-cyber-bill-last-133/).