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A groundswell of Canadians speak out against government revival of Vic Toews-inspired online spying legislation

As parliamentarians return to their ridings for the winter holidays, citizens and groups from across the political spectrum are raising concerns about how Peter MacKay’s online spying Bill C-13 would undermine Canadians’ privacy

Many commentators are saying that the legislation is a missed opportunity to specifically tackle the serious issue of cyberbullying and that the government is showing a huge lack of respect for the families of cyberbullying victims by lumping in unpopular online spying proposals into the cyberbullying bill. The Official Opposition has joined OpenMedia.ca in calling for the Bill to be split, so that the cyberbullying and online spying components can be dealt with separately.

As parliamentarians return to their ridings for the winter holidays, Canadians are speaking out to tell MPs that Bill C-13’s online spying provisions are unacceptable and would undermine privacy. Here’s what representatives of organizations from a cross section of perspectives have been saying about Minister MacKay’s revival of Vic Toews’ spying bill:

“Canadians are waking up to the fact that this legislation will give a range of authorities access to the private lives of innocent Canadians, even if they’re not suspected of wrongdoing” says Internet Freedom advocate and OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “By resurrecting Vic Toews’ failed ideas, Minister MacKay is showing an appalling lack of respect for Canadians.”

Chris Schafer, Executive Director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, told Sun News that: "This is nothing to do with protecting children or preventing online bullying. This is everything to do with sneaking in through the back door the ability for police authorities to survey you and I as we go about our business. We've already had revelations from the U.S. from Snowden about the massive and rampant surveillance of law-abiding citizens in the U.S. and I'm afraid that's being imported into Canada with this bill… Every Canadian, whether left-wing, right-wing, middle-of-the-road, it doesn't matter - we all should be very concerned about this particular bill."

Child welfare charity Unicef Canada urged caution in a statement release on its website: “UNICEF Canada urges a stronger focus on education and prevention so that young people – be they potential or actual bullies, victims or bystanders - understand the social, health and legal consequences of their digital actions for others and for themselves.” The statement went on to say, “We urge the development of prosecutorial guidelines for any new legislation so that only the most serious of cases result in criminal charges against youth, as well as a careful analysis and evaluation of both the intended and unintended impacts of this proposed new legislation.”

Micheal Vonn, Policy Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association said: “This is not a bill about cyberbullying. It’s a bill essentially to reintroduce most of the components of Bill C-30, despite the government’s assurances that they would not do so.”

In a press release, the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association stated: “It’s time for the House to split this bill, to allow for debate on measures to deal with cyberbullying to happen independently of the resurrection of overbroad online surveillance”

Progressive international campaigning organization Avaaz has also just joined others working on this campaign saying that Bill C-13 could “systematically dismantle key civil liberties making it easier for authorities to spy on everything we do online, and easier for them to covertly track our movements using our own phones.”

Canadian users of popular social media site Reddit are also speaking out:

  • One user noted that Bill C-13: “Smells like Bill C-30 again, which they said they wouldn't revive... oh change the number.. right.. deception, distraction, disgusting.”
  • Another stated: If you read Bill C-13... you will see that cyberbullying is the candy flavoured coating wrapped around something considerably larger.
  • Finally, this Reddit user reflected: “It's been a while since I was accused of standing with pedophiles. Now I get to be accused of standing with cyber bullies.

Over 40 major organizations and over a dozen academic experts recently formed the Protect Our Privacy Coalition, which is calling for effective legal measures to protect the privacy of every resident of Canada against intrusion by government entities.

Canadians can join the Protect Our Privacy Coalition at http://OurPrivacy.ca - Over 27,000 people have already spoken out about government surveillance.

About OpenMedia.ca

OpenMedia.ca is a network of people and organizations working to safeguard the possibilities of the open Internet. We work toward informed and participatory digital policy.

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.

Earlier this year, OpenMedia.ca launched its Secret Spying campaign, to demand answers and immediate action from the government after it was revealed that a secretive government agency has been spying on the telephone and Internet activities of individuals, including law-abiding Canadians.

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.



David Christopher
Communications Manager, OpenMedia.ca
[email protected]

More Information

  • 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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