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A look back at our Stop Spying campaign against Canada’s Bill C-30

Nowadays, OpenMedia is increasingly well known for our work on privacy issues, both here in Canada and around the world. Privacy — your basic right to use the Internet without being watched by your own government — is now one of our three pillars of Internet freedom (more on those here).

But how did we first get involved with privacy? And what happened when we did? For answers, let’s look back at our Stop Spying campaign against Bill C-30, an invasive piece of online spying legislation introduced by Canada’s former Conservative federal government.

Bill C-30 was first introduced in 2011 by then Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. Originally part of an Omnibus Crime Bill, the government later reintroduced it as separate legislation. This dangerous bill would have:

  • Granted the government the power to monitor the private Internet activities of law-abiding citizens in real time — without a warrant.

  • Required Internet providers to log their customers’ private information and hand it over to the government on request — without a warrant.

  • Created ‘back door’ entrances to allow the government to remotely access your private information — again, you guessed it, without a warrant.

Check out this cool infographic about how we successfully rallied over 150,000 people from coast to coast to coast to speak out and successfully defeat this bill:

Among the highlights:

  • We rallied a Stop Online Spying Coalition to fight against the bill, many members of which later went on to become part of the Protect our Privacy Coalition.

  • The coalition launched a series of mini-PSAs like this one to spread the word.

  • We launched a viral #TellVicEverything campaign to encourage Canadians to share the most mundane pieces of their private lives with Minister Vic Toews.

Last but not least, the coalition even produced this awesome mini-documentary (Un)lawful Access: Experts Line Up Against Online Spying:

 

 

Our work continues

When we forced the government to withdraw Bill C-30, they promised not to reintroduce warrantless spying legislation. Sadly, they rapidly broke that promise, and introduced Bill C-13 and Bill C-51, each of which dramatically expanded the government’s ability to spy on your private information without a warrant.

The government was also responsible for a whole series of scandals involving the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada’s equivalent to the NSA. These included spying on Canadians who logged onto the public wi-fi at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, and monitoring millions of Internet downloads daily, with Canadians among the targets.

This combination of reckless legislation and seemingly out-of-control spy agencies prompted us to develop Canada’s Privacy Plan — a comprehensive pro-privacy action plan that we crowdsourced with the help of over 100,000 Canadians. Check it out at PrivacyPlan.ca

Now that we have a new federal government in place, it’s never been more important for Canadians to speak up for privacy by joining one of our ongoing campaigns:

  • Save Our Security - tell Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale that strong privacy rules keep us safe

  • KillC51.ca - join over 300,000 Canadians and speak out against the reckless, dangerous, and ineffective Bill C-51.

  • OurPrivacy.ca - support Canada’s Protect our Privacy Coalition of over 75 organizations from across the political spectrum which are working together to deliver strong privacy safeguards for all residents of Canada.

  • My Netflix, My Privacy - ask Netflix to stop blocking essential pro-privacy VPN technologies.

  • Stop Stingrays - stand up against the increasingly widespread use of Stingray surveillance devices to monitor our private cell phone data.