#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: The End of Online Anonymity?

fingerprint-on-keyboardIf you could change or enact one internet law, what would it be? For some Canadians, it might be new rules to promote greater competition among internet providers or increased copyright flexibilities matching the U.S. fair use provision. For others, it would mean toughening online privacy protection or examining whether Canadian net neutrality rules are sufficient.

When Scott Naylor, a detective inspector with the Ontario Provincial Police was asked the question during a Senate hearing earlier this month on Bill C-13, the government’s lawful access legislation, he responded that he would eliminate anonymity on the internet. Naylor likened internet access to obtaining a driver’s licence or a marriage licence, noting that we provide identification for many different activities, yet there is no requirement to identify yourself (or be identified) when using the internet.

While acknowledging that a universal identification system is impractical, he said would ideally like a mandatory digital fingerprint for Internet users that would identify them sitting behind the computer. Naylor’s comments were quickly greeted with support from Conservative Senator Tom McInnis, who lamented the use of assumed names and agreed that identifying the identity of online users would be a good thing.

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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: Ontario Provincial Police Recommend Ending Anonymity on the Internet


The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs began its hearings on Bill C-13, the lawful access/cyberbullying bill last week with an appearance from several law enforcement representatives. The Ontario Provincial Police was part of the law enforcement panel and was asked by Senator Tom McInnis, a Conservative Senator from Nova Scotia, about what other laws are needed to address cyberbullying. Scott Naylor of the OPP responded (official transcript not yet posted online):

If the bag was open and I could do anything, the biggest problem that I see in the world of child sexual exploitation is anonymity on the Internet. When we get our driver’s licence we’re required to get our picture taken for identification. When you get a mortgage you have to sign and provide identification. When you sign up for the Internet, there is absolutely no requirement for any kind of non-anonymity qualifier. There are a lot of people who are hiding behind the Internet to do all kinds of crime, including cybercrime, fraud, sexual exploitation and things along those lines.

The Internet is moving so quickly that law enforcement cannot keep up. If there were one thing that I would ask for discussion on is that there has to be some mechanism of accountability for you to sign on to an Internet account that makes it like a digital fingerprint that identifies it to you sitting behind the computer or something at that time. There are mechanisms to do it, but the Internet is so big and so vast at this point, and it’s worldwide, I’m not sure how that could happen, but that would certainly assist everybody. In that way I can make a digital qualification that that’s the person that I’m talking to. If I had one choice, that’s what I would ask for.

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#CyberFLASH: New counterterrorism powers already coming in cyberbullying bill

attack-powers28nw2Police in Canada will soon have new tools to track terror suspects through online records, bank accounts and other means – powers the RCMP Commissioner called for this week but which are already moving through Parliament.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson made the request for new powers Monday after a pair of attacks last week that killed Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo. The Commissioner said police should, in some cases, need less hard evidence to get court approval to track suspects or to monitor them online or by phone.

However, police are already getting some of those powers. Bill C-13, the government’s anti-cyberbullying law with several controversial surveillance powers, would allow police to seek court orders for information, such as online records and bank account details, with what critics and privacy advocates say is too little evidence to back up the request.

The killing of the two soldiers has spurred Canada to review what powers it gives police to investigate terror cases, setting up a showdown over privacy rights.

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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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