#CyberFLASH: Mere oversight won’t fix Tory surveillance bill: Geist

10712553The past 10 days have been a difficult time for Canadians concerned with privacy and civil liberties.

Strike one came with new Edward Snowden revelations regarding Canada’s role in the daily tracking of the Internet activities of millions. Strike two was the introduction of Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism legislation, which sparked concern from observers across the country. Strike three came with the response to those developments, with the government dismissing oversight mechanisms as “red tape” and the opposition parties choosing to focus on process rather than substance.

The opposition parties’ decision to focus on oversight is unsurprising given the weakness of the current system and the absence of any meaningful reforms within the proposed legislation.

Yet the problem with focusing chiefly on oversight and is that it leaves the substantive law (in the case of CSE Internet surveillance) or proposed law (as in the case of C-51) largely unaddressed. If Canada fails to examine the shortcomings within the current law or within Bill C-51, there is no amount of accountability, oversight, or review that will restore the harm to privacy and civil liberties.

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