#CyberFLASH: Government making it easier to spy on Canadians without warrants or oversight

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Carol Todd appeared before the Commons justice committee on Tuesday to tell the terrible story of her daughter, Amanda, who took her life in 2012 after being sexually exploited and bullied by online predators.

Todd was testifying about bill C-13, which will make it illegal to share an intimate image of someone without that person’s consent.

But while the government’s communications effort around the bill focuses on preventing these tragedies, most of the 70-page bill is about other things, including a clause to protect communication companies from liability when they hand private information to the government.

Todd doesn’t like that idea.

“I don’t want to see our children victimized again by losing privacy rights,” she told MPs. “I am troubled by some of these provisions condoning the sharing of the private information of Canadians without proper legal process.”

Todd called on the government to split the cyberbullying provisions from the rest of the bill, trying to separate the emotional business of child protection from the more delicate question of what private information the police should be able to get without a warrant.

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#CyberFLASH: Govt tries to shut down debate on Online Spying Bill

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The government looks likely to shut down debate on its controversial Online Spying Bill C-13, which MPs are scheduled to discuss later today. The move comes after tens of thousands have spoken out on a pro-privacy petition organized by OpenMedia.ca and a huge nationwide 50 organization Protect our Privacy coalition. If the government succeeds, this could be the last day of 2nd Reading debate on the bill, which is being driven forward by Justice Minister Peter MacKay.

Bill C-13 sparked immediate controversy after experts revealed how over 60 pages of the bill were lifted from Vic Toews’ failed online spying Bill C-30, which the government was forced to withdraw after Canadians spoke out against it. Experts say that Bill C-13 would give a wide range of authorities access to the private lives of law-abiding Canadians. The bill grants legal immunity to telecom providers who hand over Canadians’ private information without a warrant, as has already happenedover 18,000 times in the case of just a single government agency last year.

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#CyberFLASH: Lawful Access Bill Would Have Allowed NSA-Style Spying In Canada, says Geist

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controversial bill that would have given the federal government greater power to track Canadians online included a provision that would have allowed for an NSA-style surveillance system, says a prominent digital law professor.

University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist says a provision in Bill C-30 would have given carte blanche to government agencies to install whatever monitoring equipment they want on telecom service providers’ networks.

The Harper government withdrew Bill C-30 (known as the “Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act”) earlier this year, after public concerns the bill would allow the government to surveil Canadians without a warrant online, but many political observers say the government is already sowing the seeds for a similar new bill to come.

In a recent blog post, Geist noted that section 14(4) of Bill C-30 would have given the government the power to “provide [a] telecommunications service provider with any equipment … that the Minister considers the service provider needs to comply” with government requests under the new law.

Read more on HuffingtonPost.ca

Bill C-30 falls owing to expense and privacy concerns

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The Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has rarely backed down during its seven years in power. It has made an exception on the controversial internet surveillance legislation first introduced in early 2012.

Bill C-30 was opposed by federal and provincial privacy commissioners, who decried the provisions that would permit law enforcement officials to compel internet service providers (ISPs) to identify clients without a warrant. ISPs opposed the bill because they claimed it would force them to install expensive tracking equipment.

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Internet Surveillance Bill is Dead but Canada’s Telecom Transparency Gap is Alive and Well

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The government’s recent decision to kill its online surveillance legislation marked a remarkable policy shift. The outcry over the plan to require Internet providers to install surveillance capabilities within their networks and to disclose subscriber information on demand without court oversight sparked an enormous backlash, leading to the tacit acknowledgment that the proposal was at odds with public opinion. 

While many Canadians welcomed the end of Bill C-30, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the year-long battle over the bill placed the spotlight on an ongoing problem with the current system of voluntary disclosure of subscriber information: Internet providers and telecom companies disclose customer information to law enforcement tens of thousands of times every year without court oversight.

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Lawful Access is Dead (For Now): Government Kills Bill C-30

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Bill C-30 may be dead, but lawful access surely is not.  On the same day the government put the bill out its misery, it introduced Bill C-55 on warrantless wiretapping. Although the bill is ostensibly a response to last year’s R v. Tse decision from the Supreme Court of Canada, much of the bill is lifted directly from Bill C-30.  Moreover, there will be other ways to revive the more troublesome Internet surveillance provisions. Christopher Parsons points to lawful intercept requirements in the forthcoming spectrum auction, while many others have discussed Bill C-12, which includes provisions that encourage personal information disclosure without court oversight.  Of course, cynics might also point to the 2007 pledge from then-Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day to not introduce mandatory disclosure of personal information without a warrant. That position was dropped soon after Peter Van Loan took over the portfolio. 

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Federal government kills Internet-snooping bill

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OTTAWA — Almost one year after introducing its controversial Internet-surveillance bill, the federal government has conceded the legislation is officially dead due to public outrage.

Shortly after tabling new legislation that incorporates some of the less contentious elements of Bill C-30 related to emergency wiretaps, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson admitted Monday that the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act will not proceed.

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Canada’s privacy watchdog offers alternative to Tories’ Internet bill

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OTTAWA—The federal privacy watchdog is trying to help the Conservative government find a compromise in its contentious bid to bolster Internet surveillance powers.

A blueprint solicited by the privacy commissioner’s office proposes new procedures to give police and spies key information about Internet users while retaining the principle of judicial oversight, a memo obtained under the Access to Information Act shows.

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