#CyberFLASH: Election could shine spotlight on digital issues: Geist

Local Input~ FOR NATIONAL POST USE ONLY - NO POSTMEDIA - Hacker using laptop. Lots of digits on the computer screen. Credit fotolia.Media reports indicate that Canadians may officially find themselves in an election campaign by the end of the weekend. With the actual vote still eleven weeks away, the long campaign will provide numerous opportunities to contrast the various political parties on key issues such as economic policy, security, ethics, the environment, and health care.

Digital policies will also deserve some time in the spotlight. Topping the list of concerns include the post-Bill C-51 landscape, support for the Trans Pacific Partnership, and the prospect of a Digital Canada 3.0.

1. Bill C-51 and what comes next

Bill C-51, the controversial anti-terrorism bill, emerged as one of the biggest political issues of the year, with thousands of Canadians protesting against legislation they viewed as excessively restrictive of their privacy and civil rights. The bill passed in June, but not before all three major parties adopted distinct positions. The Conservatives unsurprisingly supported their plan with few amendments, the NDP offered the strongest opposition, and the Liberals voted for the bill but promised changes if elected.

Those positions open the door to a robust debate on what comes next. The Liberals have committed to repealing elements of Bill C-51, but leaving some of it untouched. What would an NDP government do? With a Conservative-backed Senate committee recently proposing additional reforms, do the Conservatives view Bill C-51 as the end or the beginning of legal changes to combat terrorism?

On top of Bill C-51 and its aftermath, the Edward Snowden surveillance revelations still loom large. The government has largely avoided discussing Canada’s role in global Internet surveillance activities even as other countries have eliminated some programs and beefed up oversight in response to public concern. A clear position from each party on Canadian network surveillance activities is long overdue.

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