‘What are you hiding?’

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The conservative government’s internet spy Bill, C-30, has left many questioning the right to privacy

Kristen McEwen
News Writer

According to panelists at a recent public discussion held at the University of Regina  on Nov. 5, Canadians should be prepared to wipe their internet browser history of any songs that they may have downloaded illegally.

U of R Business Administration professor Bill Bonner, local Regina lawyer Noah Evanchuk, and NDP Heritage Critic Andrew Cash agree that Bill C-30 is not what it claims to be.

Introduced to Parliament early in February 2012, Bill C-30 is titled “Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act” and was sponsored by Canada’s Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews.

But, Professor Bill Bonner says, the police need no additional assistance when it comes to catching predators, which leaves the question, what role does C-30 actually play?

“I know of two major instances in this province where child pornographer rings have been busted and yet this bill hasn’t been passed yet,” he said. “Law enforcement seems to be able to do its job now.”

When introduced to Parliament in February, Toews told a news conference that he believed that “unless [Bill C-30] is adopted, this will in fact allow child pornographers and organized crime to flourish … The focus here is the protection of children.”

While C-30 claims to be an internet safety Act to catch child predators, the Act’s mandate states that this legislation will help “ensure that telecommunications service providers have the capability to enable national security and law enforcement agencies to exercise their authority to intercept communications and to require telecommunications service providers to provide subscriber and other information.” Provisions in the Act include things such as forcing internet providers to make online communication files more accessible to police, and requiring telecommunications and internet providers to give up subscribers data – such as legal names, IP addresses, and contact information – to police and national security agencies without a warrant.


“Anytime you’re addressing legislation, [the question] is why? What is the legislative intent? Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms are subject to limitations, the right against unreasonable search and seizure. That includes infringing on your privacy interest.” – Noah Evanchuk


This means telecommunications or internet service providers (ISPs) would have the ability to store any personal information about a customer, such as emails, passwords for social media sites and online banking, phone numbers and addresses to pass this information on to the local police or RCMP.

Another key part to the legislation that has brought concern to many is that law enforcement would be able to access the information stored with the ISPs without a search warrant. 

“Anytime you’re addressing legislation, [the question] is why? What is the legislative intent?” Evanchuk said. “Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms are subject to limitations, the right against unreasonable search and seizure. That includes infringing on your privacy interest.”

Without a search warrant, police would not necessarily need a good reason to access information. Evanchuk said Bill C-30 would cause issues with some Supreme Court decisions.

In 2010, the Supreme Court overturned the decisions of the trial court and the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal regarding a man named Urbain Morelli accused of child pornography. The evidence indicated that he was guilty. An internet technician had spotted the evidence when he went to install the broadband connection. After his second visit to finish the installation, he contacted the police. The guilty verdict was overturned because it was an unreasonable search and seizure and the evidence had not been obtained legally. The Morelli decision would be in direct conflict with Bill C-30.

Bonner said those who support C-30 often ask those who are opposed to the Act ‘what are you hiding?’ when what should be looked at is ‘what do you want to reveal?’

“It is so the wrong question,” he said. “It’s a question of really, what have I got to reveal? We all have stuff we don’t want to reveal … there’s passwords, health information.”

Evanchuk agreed. “As a lawyer and as a barrister, my problem with Bill C-30 is the government has not addressed why they’re doing this,” he explained. “They’re arguing this backwards; they’re arguing why not, so those with legitimate concerns are cast aside; ‘Well, you either support this or [support] child pornographers.”

Photo courtesy gigaom2.files.wordpress.com

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