How Stephen Harper and Vic Toews are spinning their attempt to curb Internet freedom
This morning while listening to the CBC Radio program The House, I endured a fairly lengthy interview with Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.
He sounded so reasonable when discussing Bill C-30, also known as the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act.
"The police will not be able to read emails or view web activity unless they obtain a warrant from a judge," Toews claimed to host Evan Solomon. "If there is anything in the bill that deviates from that very important principle—that substantive content cannot be accessed without a warrant—I am certainly prepared to consider amendments, as is the prime minister."
The bill gives police and Canadian Security Intelligence Service officials the power to order a telecommunications company to provide a customer's name, address, telephone number, Internet Protocol address, and email address without a warrant.
According to Ontario's privacy commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, who also appeared on The House, Toews likely defines "substantive content" as the content of an email.
However, Cavoukian told Solomon that with the customer's name, subscriber data, and IP address—which can be obtained without a warrant—it becomes very easy for police to learn the following information:
• surfing habits online.
• websites people have visited.
• videos they're viewing.
• content they're reading.
"You can infer by connecting the dots of the surfing habit a great deal of personal information about an individual," she told Solomon. "It's that that I consider to be very invasive and very telling."
That's not all. Cavoukian went on to accuse the federal government of "creating a mandatory surveillance regime", which will cost the communications industry millions of dollars to administer.
"This is a solution in search of a problem," she charged. "There is no need to do this. The police can get the information they need."
To support her claim, Cavoukian told Solomon that just last week in Ontario, 60 people were arrested and charged with more than 200 counts of child pornography.
Meanwhile, NDP leadership candidate Paul Dewar, the MP for Ottawa Centre, has called upon Toews to resign as the minister of public safety, claiming he has "failed his ministerial responsibilities".
"Today we learned that he had not even reviewed the most intrusive provisions of the bill before introducing it in the House of Commons," Dewar claimed in a news release, referring to comments Toews made on The House.