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.