Friday, March 18, 2016

Let's Hope They Understand That

 The Trudeau government has vowed to "fix" Bill C-51 -- the bill which the Harper government claimed guaranteed Canadians national security. But that guarantee came with a price: the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Communications Security Establishment were allowed to operate outside the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In January, Ralph Goodale and David McGuinty headed to Britain to ask for advice about how to fix the bill. But, Michael Harris writes, if they were looking for best practices, Britain -- under David Cameron's government -- was not the place to go:

This week the Cameron government published its draft version of the Investigatory Powers Bill. It is Britain’s answer to the Apple-versus-the-FBI battle in the United States, where a controversy is raging over privacy issues and the government’s authority to breach the confidentiality of information contained on devices like iPhones.

The Cameron government’s answer is both draconian and Orwellian, which may explain why 200 senior lawyers have written that the legislation breaches international law and is “unfit” for the its purpose. Why? It utterly destroys any known concept of privacy, and worse, it moves the power to breach that privacy from the judiciary to the government. It is, in plain language, the Big Brother Charter.

Here’s the price in the UK of folding on the privacy issue. The government would require that internet service providers retain data on their customers, such as browsing records, for twelve months in the event that intelligence agencies decide they need it. According to Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple, all of whom oppose the legislation, such legislation would also usher in an era of bulk surveillance, less effective encryption, and circumstances in which the companies would have to hack their own customers.

Harris argues that Canadians are not prepared for bulk surveillance and they will not accept it. Let's hope Mr. Goodale, Mr. McGunity -- and Mr. Trudeau -- understand that.


Pamela Mac Neil said...

I have a really bad feeling about this bill Owen. Did they really have to go to the UK. It doesn't take a look see to know Cameron doesn't give a darn about British rights.There is an international agenda to bill C-51 which they may be concerned with satisfying over the domestic rights of Canadians. I hope I'm wrong!

Owen Gray said...

I, too, hope you're wrong, Pam. But I understand your concern.

Steve said...

if a power has an ability it will demonstrate it. its human nature skynet

Steve said...

They do not care about national security, its all about stopping piracy

Owen Gray said...

Both true statements, Steve. Power is not power unless it is used.

The Mound of Sound said...

If there was ever a case for strict application of the "precautionary principle" it is surely any enactment that infringes on or in any other way impacts democratic rights and freedoms. The onus must be stringent and rest entirely on the meddlers' shoulders. They must state their case convincingly and endure the heaviest scrutiny. If they cannot they must fail.

Privacy, privacy, privacy. How few of us appreciate the central role privacy plays as a foundation for almost every other right we have and how, when privacy is weakened, that undermines many other freedoms and rights. It would be great if we could proclaim this paramountcy to make the role of privacy better understood. Then, perhaps, more of us would be a bit more thoughtful before surrendering our own.

Owen Gray said...

Privacy is the cornerstone upon which the other rights and freedoms rest, Mound. How can we guarantee freedom of speech or assembly if we can't protect a person's right to privacy?