Privacy Coalition experts urge Prime Minister to heed serious concerns about Online Spying Bill C-13 and to rethink Privacy Commissioner nomination
Letter to PM from leading Privacy Coalition experts sets out detailed critique of how Bill C-13 undermines privacy and calls for rethink of Privacy Commissioner nomination
The letter to the Prime Minister highlights a number of ways in which the Government is letting Canadians down on privacy. These include rushed and inadequate committee hearings on privacy-invasive Bill C-13, a list of ongoing privacy issues that the government has ignored or failed to address, and the recent and highly controversial nomination of Canada’s next Privacy Commissioner.
Explaining why he launched the initiative, CIPPIC’s Tamir Israel said: “Privacy is essential for a healthy democracy. If left unchecked, the activities of Canada’s state surveillance apparatus are harmful to all Canadians. We’re calling on the government to take its obligation to protect privacy seriously. Specifically, we are calling for removal of the excessive online spying provisions from Bill C-13, for action in addressing Canada’s serious privacy deficit, and for a reconsideration of its recent nomination for Privacy Commissioner.”
“Canadians have been absolutely appalled by their government’s secretive and reckless spying activities,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson, who will testify before key MPs next Tuesday about C-13. “Our current system is a shambles, with Canadians being spied on by the government every 27 seconds. Bill C-13 would make things even worse by enabling the government to spy on any Canadian, at any time, without a warrant, and without even informing citizens when their privacy is breached.”
Anderson continued: “We're taking these concerns directly to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is ultimately accountable for the actions of his government. He should listen to the serious concerns being expressed by Canadians, including elder statesmen in his own party such as Stockwell Day, and take action to get this problem under control. There’s no longer any excuse for government stonewalling and inaction. Canadians deserve transparency, robust privacy protections, and an end to blanket online spying against law-abiding citizens.”
The letter points to a growing erosion of privacy rights through:
- Bill C-13, currently being rushed through committee, elements of which will “dramatically expands the state’s capacity to invade the privacy of Canadians”;
- The government’s refusal to address well-documented problems that have permitted the Communications Security Establishment of Canada (CSEC), Canada’s foreign intelligence body, to indiscriminately collect large amounts of our private data;
- Failure to update core and aging privacy and transparency laws in order to make sure privacy protections keep pace with technological developments; and
- The controversial appointment of a Privacy Commissioner of Canada who lacks the demonstrated dedication and experience historically required of that position.
OpenMedia.ca’s Steve Anderson is testifying before Parliament’s Justice and Human Rights Committee on Tuesday about Bill C-13. He is crowdsourcing input from Canadians to shape his testimony.
Tens of thousands of Canadians are speaking out to demand effective legal safeguards to protect privacy at OurPrivacy.ca
Groups and experts signing on to the letter:
Groups and experts signing on to the letter include: OpenMedia.ca, Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA); British Columbia Freedom of Information & Privacy Association (BCFIPA), Privacy and Access Council of Canada – Conseil du Canada de ‘Accѐs et la vie privée, Canadian Access and Privacy Association (CAPA); Canadian Institute of Access and Privacy Professionals (CIAPP); Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), Sharon Polsky (MAPP, President, Privacy and Access Council of Canada), AMINA Corp., Prof. Andrew Clement (University of Toronto), Prof. David Lyon (Queen’s Research Chair in Surveillance Studies), Kevin McArthur, Darrell Evans (The Open Government Project), Democracy Watch, National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICMLG), Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association (RMCLA), John Wunderlich (Open Notice Project), Kevin McArthur, Dr. Kate Milberry, Dr. Adam Molnar (Surveillance Studies Centre, Queen's University), Connie Fournier (Free Dominion), David Murakami-Wood (Canada Research Chair in Surveillance Studies, Queen's University), Prof. Ian Kerr (Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law & Technology, University of Ottawa), Prof. Colin Bennett, Prof. Lisa Austin, Dr Benjamin Muller, Eric Lawton (MAPP, Director, Privacy and Access Council of Canada), Claire Milne (Executive Director, David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights), Prof. David Murakami-Wood (Canada Research Chair in Surveillance Studies, Queen's University), Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association (RMCLA), Kris Constable (PrivaSecTech), Dr. Chris Parsons (Citizen Lab, University of Toronto), Prof. Leslie Shade (University of Toronto), Steve Chapman (Isomer Design).
Communications Manager, 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.
- 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.