Winnipeg, MB - November 22
On Wednesday the Conservatives announced their strategy for a new anti-bullying law. While efforts must be taken to stop the recent tide of suicides related to bullying online it must be careful, considered change. Laws written in the wake of tragedies are often deeply flawed. In this regard it is good the Conservatives waiting until now to examine Canada’s bullying laws rather than in the immediate wake of the suicides of Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons.
However, reading over the bill one does get a sense of deja vu, as if we have already seen this bill before. That is because we have. Many, but not all, of the privacy-violating provisions of Bill C-30 (Lawful Access) have been revived. Prof. Michael Geist gives an excellent dissection of the issues on his blog. Two important provisions are not returning: warrantless data collection and forcing telecommunications service providers to put ‘backdoors’ in their systems for law enforcement monitoring. However, this is of little comfort as the various documents leaked by Edward Snowden imply our government, or an allied government, may already have these capabilities without these provisions.
The bill also includes warrant powers for the collection of meta data, with a lower standard than other warrants. With this there is a ban on the disclosure of the existence of these warrants. As well ISPs will now be able to voluntarily hand over data without civil or criminal liability which means law enforcement don’t even need a warrant to get your data. As well, certain computer software will be criminalized. These are provisions the Conservatives promised not to revive when Bill C-30 caused a public outcry and was abandoned.
“The law could allow widespread collection of Canadians personal metadata. It could criminalize independent Information Technology researchers who investigates security flaws in systems and devices (e.g. critical bugs, spywares and backdoors).” says Ric Lim, Secretary of the Pirate Party of Canada. The Pirate Party believes that more needs to be done to combat bullying in society. Given the reports that law enforcement officers were slow to act in both of the recent tragedies it may be prudent to start with providing better training to officers to handle these kind of situations. “The route taken by this Conservative government is typical of them. Take an issue people want action on, throw in some nice-sounding language and then add a bunch of ill-conceived ideas. The result being a bill dubious at best which the Conservatives will say must be passed ‘for the children'”, says James Wilson, Leader of the Pirate Party of Canada. The Pirate Party urges Parliament to use caution as they examine the proposed bill so that in their effort to combat bullying they do not worsen other areas of Canadian law.
The Pirate Party of Canada is a federal political party focused on thoughtful information policy reform, genuine democracy, civil liberties, and the freedom of the Internet. You can find out more online at www.pirateparty.ca .