#CyberFLASH: Bill C-13 has little to do with cyberbullying

cyber_surveillance.jpg.size.xxlarge.promoIn Bill C-13, the federal government proposes to “modernize” the lawful access provisions of the Criminal Code that allow the state to get access to electronic communications in appropriate circumstances. This has little to do with cyberbullying, the bill’s supposed target.

The lawful access provisions are recycled from past failed attempts at lawful access reform, the main parameters of which were set in the post-Sept. 11 world. They provide a tool kit that has long been sought by the state in relation to investigating terror cases although the case for the necessity of this tool kit is weak.

Two important questions need more public discussion: what kinds of surveillance do the new powers enable and are these powers constitutional?

Bill C-13 creates new types of production orders that permit police to access “transmission data” as well as “tracking data” on a standard of reasonable suspicion. It also creates new warrants that allow authorities to collect transmission data through a transmission data recorder and tracking data through a tracking device, again on a standard of reasonable suspicion.

What do authorities need to suspect? First, they need to suspect that an offence has been or will be committed. Second, they need to suspect that the transmission data “will assist” the investigation. These standards of suspicion fall below the usual requirements for a search warrant: reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has been committed and that the search will produce evidence of it.

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#CyberFLASH: Online spying bill goes too far


large_cybersecPeter MacKay’s online spying Bill C-13 will enable authorities to monitor the private lives of innocent Canadians, without any real oversight. It will give telecom providers legal immunity for handing over your private information to the government without a warrant and without any oversight.

That means people harmed wouldn’t even have the right to sue. Victims of these privacy breaches wouldn’t even be informed; that means the government could spy on anyone, at anytime, and you wouldn’t even know when you’ve been a victim.

The government is misleading Canadians when it says Bill C-13 is about cyber-bullying. It only includes a couple of pages about cyber-bullying, along with 65 pages lifted from Vic Toews’ hugely unpopular spying bill C-13 which was abandoned after Canadians spoke out.

The government recently cut Parliamentary debate on C-13 short, showing it is running scared of Canadians, including thousands of its own supporters who are speaking out against online spying. The Bill was rammed through the House of Commons and will soon be voted on by the Senate.

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#CyberFLASH: Cyberbullying bill draws fire from diverse mix of critics

cyberbullying-bill-c-13Justice Minister Peter MacKay probably expected to take some shots from the opposition over Bill C-13, colloquially known as the cyberbullying bill.

But he may not have been expecting to take so much friendly fire from his own base.

After all, it’s a rare piece of legislation that can unite groups as disparate as the Council of Canadians and the National Firearms Association. And yet the bill, which went to third reading 10 days ago, after the Conservative government voted to shorten time for debate, has done just that.

Sheldon Clare is president of the National Firearms Association, the country’s biggest gun owners’ organization and the same group that persuaded MacKay to pose in a sweatshirt with its rifle logo a few weeks ago.

But if the minister thought his gesture would win the group over on Bill C-13, he was mistaken, says Clare.

“We think that this is probably the most draconian step towards police interference in people’s lives since George Orwell revealed the potential for it when he wrote 1984.”

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#CyberFLASH: Bill C-13 Moves Ahead, Despite Claims Supreme Court Already Killed It

Peter MacKay Steven Blaney

The Harper government is set to push through a bill that critics say the Supreme Court has already in effect struck down.

Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians From Online Crime Act, comes up before the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Often referred to as the “anti-cyberbullying bill,” C-13 was the government’s response to a high-profile Nova Scotia cyberbullying case that is currently under a controversial publication ban.

The bill makes it a crime to transmit pictures without consent, and it removes barriers to getting unwanted pictures removed from the internet.

But critics say the bill also threatens the privacy rights of Canadians by granting immunity to telecoms that provide subscriber information to police without a warrant.

They argue the bill has in effect already been rendered unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, which last June declared that law enforcement requires a warrant to get even basic subscriber data.

Government officials, speaking on background, have told HuffPost previously that the government takes a much more narrow interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling, and is confident the controversial bills will pass constitutional muster.

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#CyberFLASH: Police need warrant for internet information: Supreme Court


Police need a warrant to access basic personal information from telecom providers, the Supreme Court ruled Friday.

 The unanimous decision is at odds with the government’s anti-cyberbullying Bill C-13, currently before the Senate.

The bill — widely panned by civil libertarians and privacy experts — would allow private telecoms to pass personal information of Canadians to law enforcement even in the absence of a warrant.

The court ruled that was unconstitutional. Police may ask for information and telecoms can, to some degree, oblige. But if that information is to be used in court, a warrant must be obtained prior to obtaining the information, the court ruled.

The ruling is based on the case of Matthew Spencer, a young Saskatchewan man who was convicted of possessing child pornography but claimed police violated his privacy rights during their investigation.

Police suspected Spencer downloaded child pornography between August and September 2007 using the file-sharing program LimeWire.

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