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EFF: Proponents of Canada’s Online Spying Bill Still Trying to Justify Excessive Powers

A few weeks ago, we shared how Richard Fadden, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, had put forth an offer to help justify and tweak the Online Spying Bill (C-30) to make it more 'palatable' to the Canadian public. This proposed alliance between Toews and CSIS was met with a resounding disapproval from the pro-Internet community. Our friends at Electronic Frontier Foundation have written about the new developments in Canada's fight against online spying. Let's tell CSIS that online spying will never be palatable to Canadians and that we're fed up with Bill C-30, join our petition and make your voice heard at Article from the EFF: Canada’s online surveillance bill may be on hold for now, but a recent news article confirms that a rather formidable figure has been angling for its return: Richard Fadden, head of the Canadian equivalent of the FBI. Fadden, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), wrote in a letter that the highly contentious Bill C-30 was “vital” to protecting national security. The letter was sent to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, the driver behind Bill C-30, in late February. It was released to the Canadian Press in response to a request filed under the Access to Information Act.

As EFF has noted before, Bill C-30 would introduce new police powers allowing Canadian authorities easy access to individuals’ online activities, including the power to force Internet companies to hand over private customer data without a warrant. It would also pave the way for gag orders preventing online service providers from notifying subscribers that their private data has been disclosed — a move that would make it impossible for users to seek legal recourse for privacy violations.

Similar gag orders are frequently imposed in the United States, when the FBI issues national security letters (NSLs) seeking customer information. In a case EFF has taken on to challenge an NSL statute on behalf of a telecommunications company that received one of these secret letters in 2011, fundamental due process and First Amendment issues arising from these gag order provisions are a central concern.

Toews, the bill’s proponent, has made some outrageous claims about Bill C-30. Early on, he stated that opponents of the bill were either with him, "or with the child pornographers,” an apparent attempt to paint the legislation merely as a tool to combat online predators. Yet this framing of the issue was roundly rejected by stakeholders – as EFF reported back in February, internal documents reveal that even the government’s own analysts have claimed the powers in question were actually needed for non-criminal investigations.

Indeed, the legislation met with broad criticism across the board. Privacy Experts, academics, all of Canada’s Privacy Commissioners (and specifically the Federal, Ontario and British Columbia Commissioners), telecommunications companies, major Canadian newspapers, all opposition political parties, the Internet community, and more than 145,000 Canadians who signed an petition spoke out against the legislation because they understood that it represented an unwarranted invasion of Canadians’ online privacy. The message seemed to get through: The legislation was ultimately placed temporarily on hold in the wake of the public outcry.Read more »


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