Electronic surveillance laws go too far

The Green Party of Canada strongly supports OpenMedia.ca’s citizen-driven national public education campaign, raising awareness of legislation that would see serious changes to Canadians’ online privacy rights.  OpenMedia.ca launched the campaign today as part of the Stop Online Spying coalition and more information about the campaign can be found at: http://openmedia.ca/education

Former Bill C-50, C-51 and C-52 will be brought forward as part of an omnibus crime bill, though they deal with internet surveillance laws. “This proposed legislation has critical implications for data security and deserves proper Parliamentary hearings,” said May.  “Folding these issues into a larger bill with no hearings is unacceptable.”

The proposed legislation would force every phone and Internet provider to provide access to subscriber data without a warrant, even when that information is not part of any investigation. A recent survey conducted by the office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada found eight in ten of those polled “opposed giving police and intelligence agencies the power to access e-mail records and other Internet usage data without a warrant from the courts.”

“”It’s like having a CCTV camera in your home, and at your office watching every email you send, every phone call you make and every web site you click on. It’s creepy, it violates personal security and is inappropriate. The police should not be reading your email without a warrant first,” said Emma Jane Hogbin, Green Party Science and Technology Critic.

Privacy Commissioner of Canada Jennifer Stoddart, and her provincial and territorial counterparts, have objected to the proposed legislations because of privacy risks, stating in a letter that they have concerns over “the absence of limits on the access powers, the wide scope of information required to be collected and provided by telecommunications companies without a warrant and the inadequacy of internal controls and the legislative gaps in the oversight model.”

“I’ve been hearing from other Canadians that they share the concerns of the privacy Commissioner.  Canadian law enforcement obviously needs access to a certain amount of data in order to properly investigate crimes.  But these bills push that access way over the top to a point where it becomes an infringement on civil liberties. I encourage Citizens to work with OpenMedia.ca to educate their fellow Canadians about this plan for invasive surveillance,” said May.