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New spy powers will undermine privacy of Canadians, and fails to address inadequate control and accountability of spy agencies

New measures to undermine privacy proposed just days after the government’s spy agency CSE revealed to be spying on private online activities of law-abiding Canadians on a massive scale

Christophercontinued: “The government has failed to show a demonstrable need for drastic expansion of spy agency powers. Instead we see further measures that will place Canadians’ private lives under the microscope of secretive and unaccountable government agencies like CSIS and CSE. And yet the government is doing nothing to improve the accountability and transparency of these powerful spy agencies.”

Christopher says the legislation raises a number of important questions:

  • On Free Expression: The bill criminalizes advocating or promoting terrorism online - who defines the terms that get censored, blocked, or put Canadians on a watch list?

  • On Privacy: Who will be targeted by the extensive new information sharing provisions in the Bill? Will it, as feared by the Privacy Commissioner, involve exposing the personal information of innocent Canadians who are not suspected of anything?

  • On the Border: Will information about Canadians crossing the border also be shared by CBSA with CSIS?

  • On the No Fly list: What are the criteria for being placed on the no fly list? Given the devastating personal and professional impacts of being placed on the list, how will individuals be able to appeal such a designation? How will Canada safeguard against the many serious problems experienced by the U.S. with their no-fly list?

The bill is published just two days after shocking new revelations exposed a government spy program called LEVITATION that monitors tens of millions of private downloads a day, with Canadians among the targets. They also collected millions of IP addresses of individual users, with a number of Canadian Internet addresses among the targets. Experts have warned that this type of mass surveillance is actually counter-productive, and can drown intelligence agencies in reams of useless data.

Experts, MPs, Conservative Senator Hugh Segal, and even a former CSE director, have repeatedly pointed to Canada’s lack of independent oversight for its spy agencies. Last October the government voted down proposals from Liberal MP Joyce Murray to beef up oversight and accountability mechanisms, and there is nothing in today’s legislation to tackle the problem.

In just the past 24 hours, thousands of Canadians have called on Stephen Harper to end mass surveillance and improve oversight and accountability of spy agencies at





David Christopher

Communications Manager,


[email protected]


About 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 and, has engaged over half-a-million Canadians, and has influenced public policy and federal law.


About’s privacy campaign led the successful 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.

Last October, joined with over 60 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. and the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) are working together to put a stop to illegal government surveillance against law-abiding Canadians. 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

  • Spy agency CSE is monitoring private online activities on a massive scale, with Canadians among the targets. Source

  • Canada casts global surveillance dragnet over file downloads. Source: The Intercept

  • OpenMedia is crowdsourcing policy recommendation to boost privacy safeguards at

  • Supreme Court of Canada R v. Spencer ruling

  • OpenMedia’s radio ad for Peter MacKay’s Central Nova riding

  • Hard-hitting video highlights how Bill C-13 would give immunity to telecom providers who hand over your information without a warrant. Source

  • 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:

  • 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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