Canada’s Harper government unveiled a proposed piece of legislation on November 20th 2013 that was trumpeted in the media as being the answer to the very real problem of cyber bullying in this country.
The legislation is Bill C-13 or as it is as better known, “Protecting Canadians From Online Crime Act” (.pdf)
Now, if you will recall there was a similar bill that Vic Toews tried to jam through Parliament in 2012 which was Bill C-30, more commonly referred to as the “”Protecting Children From Internet Predators Act”. C-30 was rife with nasty surprises as the Federal government attempted to sneak through a plethora of surveillance items that would have basically given them unfettered access to our Internet traffic, email et cetera without the need for warrants.
After a massive backlash the government shelved the Act and we returned to the status quo. The government had said that anyone who opposed Bill C-30 was siding with the child predators. This was bullying at its finest. They tried to pull a fast one on the people of Canada. Thankfully, it failed.
The irony is not lost on me that the government has regurgitated components of Bill C-30 and rebranded it as a means to counter “cyber bullying”.
Pot, meet kettle.
From The Globe and Mail:
The proposed law, introduced Wednesday to crack down on Internet bullying involving the posting of nude photos, has come under harsh criticism over its omnibus-style approach. It also features new police tools for fighting terrorism, organized crime, fraud, theft of cable and Internet services, and hate propaganda.
Tools, yes, lets go with that thought for a minute. Here is a summary from Bill C-13 as it stands today.
(a) a new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images as well as complementary amendments to authorize the removal of such images from the Internet and the recovery of expenses incurred to obtain the removal of such images, the forfeiture of property used in the commission of the offence, a recognizance order to be issued to prevent the distribution of such images and the restriction of the use of a computer or the Internet by a convicted offender;
(b) the power to make preservation demands and orders to compel the preservation of electronic evidence;
(c) new production orders to compel the production of data relating to the transmission of communications and the location of transactions, individuals or things;
(d) a warrant that will extend the current investigative power for data associated with telephones to transmission data relating to all means of telecommunications;
(e) warrants that will enable the tracking of transactions, individuals and things and that are subject to legal thresholds appropriate to the interests at stake; and
(f) a streamlined process of obtaining warrants and orders related to an authorization to intercept private communications by ensuring that those warrants and orders can be issued by a judge who issues the authorization and by specifying that all documents relating to a request for a related warrant or order are automatically subject to the same rules respecting confidentiality as the request for authorization
So, in descending order we have a provision for cyber bullying (image takedown), power to compel evidence, collecting communication and location data, ability to monitor all forms of communication, tracking of subjects and my favorite, the ability to hide the existence of a warrant from disclosure at all. All the while lowering the bar for the police to conduct surveillance against a target. Why does that part sound familiar? Oh right, the US has National Security Letters that acted in much the same manner.
From The Globe and Mail:
Strip away the cyber bullying component and what do you have? The government is doing its best to try and hide some nasty provisions inside this bill. They have slapped a new coat of paint on Bill C-30. The hopes being that the emotion generated by the very real problem of cyber bullying is going to carry the day.
Peter MacKay is doing Canada a grave disservice and he thinks we’re all dumb enough to blindly follow him along.
Sorry Minister, don’t try to bully Canada. We’re not buying this particular horse.