The federal Bill C-30 (“An Act to enact the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act and to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts“), is a significant threat to personal freedoms in Canada. It is especially threatening to freedom of expression and our freedom to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure.
The Bill’s short name, Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, is misleading because it implies that the wide and invasive powers that the Bill will give law enforcement — in Canada and outside of Canada — is limited to stemming online child predators. There are no such limits. The bill relates to the entirety of on-line and other telecommunications.
Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that, “Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.” Bill C-30 goes against this fundamental right. The legislation gives law enforcement agencies unprecedented powers, including:
- Giving the power to access, intercept, monitor, and seize online and other telecommunications information, often upon request, to “the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, a police service including any related to the enforcement of any laws of Canada, of a province or of a foreign jurisdiction; or the Commissioner of Competition under the Competition Act.”
- Giving police power to search private information without a warrant. This includes emails, telephone calls, texts, financial information, medical information and anything else that traverses the internet or phone lines
- Giving police powers to compel Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and telecommunications companies to preserve and produce communications, then to copy and hand over private information — sometimes simply upon verbal request,
- Giving police powers to search communications based on a low standard of evidence or suspicion of wrongdoing, without notice to the affected individuals
- Requiring ISPs and telecommunications companies to have technology to retain and provide subscriber and other sensitive information upon request. Under the definition of “telecommunications service provider” these requirements apply to corporations as well.
- The requirement to produce identifying subscriber information including IP address upon request applies to requests from “the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, a police service including any related to the enforcement of any laws of Canada, of a province or of a foreign jurisdiction; or the Commissioner of Competition under the Competition Act.”
The Bill also compels service providers to install equipment enabling real-time remote surveillance of communications (internet and otherwise) that will give police, RCMP, and CSIS officials access to real-time communications. This back door not only opens up communications systems (internet, cell phones, etc.); it also puts police in the position of being able to easily abuse the power to obtain information about anyone regardless of whether or not they are the subject of an investigation. By requiring service providers to retain all communications, the Bill creates an attractive and lucrative source of information for anyone who might wish to hack into such systems.
Inspectors of the new technologies will be appointed by the Minister and have full access to private information. Inspectors will have sweeping powers to “enter any place owned by, or under the control of, any telecommunications service provider” to use, examine, and copy information. And the Bill requires all service providers – including the businesses it applies to – to “give all assistance” to help Inspectors carry out their jobs.
Bill C-30 does not have sufficient controls in place to protect people’s private communications from inspectors, law enforcement, or government authorities. It opens the door for dissenting views against the government to be monitored or suppressed, and those giving these messages to be identified, tracked and persecuted for their views or simply for disagreeing with our government.
As Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner Dr. Ann Cavoukian says, Bill C-30 creates a mandatory surveillance regime. Under the guise of protecting children, Bill C-30 creates a mandatory surveillance system that makes suspects of us all, and strips us of our democratic rights and freedoms. That is not Canadian and flies in the face of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
For a summary of the problems associated to the bill, the following links and articles are worth noting:
The BCCLA’s report on Lawful Access:
The CCLA webpage on Lawful Access:
The Privacy Commissioner’s concern about Lawful Access bills:
Open Media’s Blog and Petition on the Bill: