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Canada’s leading privacy experts unite behind Ottawa Statement, offer high-level proposals to rein in mass surveillance

Over 35 leading academics and 19 organizations sign on in support of the Ottawa Statement on Mass Surveillance, which sets out what needs to be done to protect Canadians from out-of-control mass surveillance

  • All levels of government should fully respect Canadians’ Charter rights and freedoms.
  • All proposals to change our privacy rights and freedoms should be presented, justified, and debated in a transparent manner, instead of being embedded in unrelated bills.
  • A halt to the expansion of ‘Lawful Access’ rules allowing for warrantless collection of Canadians’ private information without oversight.
  • Extended powers for federal and provincial Privacy Commissioners, including the power to prosecute and fine state bodies and private companies for breaches of privacy law.
  • All state security, intelligence, policing, and border agencies should be brought fully under proper legal regulation, judicial authorization, transparency, and democratic accountability.
  • Negotiations for international agreements that could undermine privacy should be transparent, consistent with the Charter, and subject to parliamentary and public scrutiny.
  • A full, transparent, and participatory public process to create a comprehensive legal framework for information and privacy rights and freedoms.

Professor David Murakami Wood, Canada Research Chair in Surveillance Studies, Queen's University, said: "Canada is deploying ever more surveillance in the name of safety and security, but the end result is discrimination, the reduction of privacy and the chilling of free speech. We need to stop and take stock of where Canada is going and if it is the kind of place that we would want to live in."

Professor Wood continued: "Canadian security and intelligence are centrally involved in the global U.S.-dominated spy networks revealed by Edward Snowden, but the Canadian government's reaction has been entirely inadequate. The current systems of oversight do not work. Canada should not act as a US mini-me and these rogue agencies should be brought under proper democratic control."

“No one wants to live under the microscope of government surveillance - that’s why Canadians are so fed up with the outrageous invasions of privacy being perpetrated by their government,” said OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “The Ottawa Statement sets out high-level recommendations to rein in government surveillance, and safeguard the privacy of every resident of Canada. We now need to translate these goals into effective pro-privacy legislation in Ottawa. Unpopular out-of-control spying is going to cost taxpayers billions of dollars and Canadians simply aren’t going to stand for it.”

The Ottawa Statement is the result of consultation by the experts and academics involved, many of whom volunteered their time and expertise. Its release follows a series of revelations about how the government is undermining privacy while conducting warrantless surveillance on a mass scale. Canadians have learned that:

  • The government obtained citizens’ private information 1.2 million times in a single 12 month period (once every 27 seconds) - in the vast majority of cases without a warrant.
  • The government’s proposed Bill C-13 would grant legal immunity to telecoms who hand over customers’ private information without a warrant.
  • The government’s Bill S-4 would undermine privacy by enabling telecoms to hand over their customers’ sensitive information to private sector agencies, including U.S.-style copyright trolls.
  • The government’s spy agency CSEC was caught red-handed spying on thousands of law-abiding Canadian air travellers, and even tracking their movements for weeks.
  • CSEC also facilitated a massive U.S. spying operation on Canadian soil during the Toronto G-20 summit.

Canada’s leading privacy experts recently launched a groundbreaking book about surveillance entitled Transparent Lives. For more information, see: http://www.SurveillanceInCanada.org

Tens of thousands of Canadians are calling for effective legal measures to protect our privacy at http://OurPrivacy.ca


David Christopher
Communications Manager, OpenMedia.ca
(778) 232-1858
[email protected]

Professor David Murakami Wood
Canada Research Chair in Surveillance Studies, Queen's University.
(343) 333-6533
[email protected]

Signatures to the Ottawa Statement

Experts supporting the Ottawa Statement include: Prof. David Murakami Wood, Dr. Jonathan Obar, Prof. David Lyon, Prof. Ron Deibert, Prof. Micheal Geist, Prof. Leslie Shade, Prof. Benjamin Goold, Prof. Andrew Clement, Dr. Monia Mazigh, Prof. Cindy Blackstock, Dr. Yasmeen Abu-Laban, Prof. David Grondin, Prof. Lisa Austin, Prof. Colin Bennett, Prof. Elena Razlogova, Prof. Christine Bruckert, Prof. Gabriella Coleman, Dr. Andrea Slane, Prof. Lori Stinson, Prof. Bryan Sacks, Prof. Teresa Scassa, Prof. David Phillips, Prof. Maritza Felices-Luna, Prof. Martin French, Prof. Ian Goldberg, Prof. Randal Marlin, Prof. Laureen Snider, Prof. Valerie Steeves, Prof. Dwayne Winseck, Prof. Benjamin Muller, Shawna Finnegan, Nadim Kobeissi, Sharon Polsky, Steve Chapman, Mathieu Gauthier-Pilote, Annette DeFaveri, Philippe Frowd, Dr. Brenda McPhail, Jennifer Barrigar, Ozgun Topak, Dr. Adam Molnar.

Groups supporting the Ottawa Statement include: OpenMedia.ca, B.C. Civil Liberties Association, National Council of Women of Canada, Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen's University, Amnesty International Canada, Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, FACIL, International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, Privacy and Access Council of Canada, National Council of Canadian Muslims, Canadian Institute of Access and Privacy, Privacy International, North American Association of Independent Journalists, Free Dominion, B.C. Library Association, B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, Pirate Party of Canada, Canadian Access and Privacy Association, Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

About OpenMedia.ca

OpenMedia.ca is an award-winning community-based organization that safeguards the possibilities of the open Internet. We work toward informed and participatory digital policy by engaging hundreds of thousands of people in protecting our online rights.

Through campaigns such as StopTheMeter.ca and StopSpying.ca, OpenMedia.ca has engaged over half-a-million Canadians, and has influenced public policy and federal law.

About OpenMedia.ca’s privacy campaign

OpenMedia.ca led the successful StopSpying.ca campaign that forced the government to back down on its plans to introduce a costly, invasive, and warrantless online spying law (Bill C-30). Nearly 150,000 Canadians took part in the campaign. To learn more, see this infographic.

On October 10, 2013 OpenMedia.ca collaborated with over 40 major organizations and over a dozen academic experts to form the Protect Our Privacy Coalition, which is the largest pro-privacy coalition in Canadian history. The Coalition is calling for effective legal measures to protect the privacy of every resident of Canada against intrusion by government entities.

OpenMedia.ca and the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) recently announced they will work together to put a stop to illegal government surveillance against law-abiding Canadians. OpenMedia.ca has launched a national campaign encouraging Canadians to support a BCCLA legal action which aims to stop illegal spying by challenging the constitutionality of the government’s warrantless collection of data on Canadians’ everyday Internet use.


More Information

  • Bill C-13 would let authorities obtain private information without a warrant. Source: Michael Geist
  • Supposed “cyberbullying” legislation will erode the privacy of Canadians. Source: OpenMedia.ca
  • Canada's Lawful Access Bill Appears to Have Contained a Provision to Enable PRISM-Style Surveillance Source: Michael Geist
  • Lawful Access back on the agenda this Fall? - Michael Geist.
  • Data breach protocols deficient in 9 federal departments, watchdog finds. - [Source: CBC News]
  • Internet Law expert Michael Geist on why Canadians should be concerned about government spying.
  • In this article, The Globe and Mail describes the revelations about Canadian government spying as “disturbing and unacceptable”
  • This document, obtained by The Globe through Access to Information, shows how Minister MacKay authorized a top secret program to data-mine global ‘metadata’ in 2011.

OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet. Take action now

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