Repeal Bill C-51 and Save Our Security Now

Thank you for your interest in the fight to stop the reckless, dangerous, and ineffective Bill C-51.

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Question 1: Surveillance Oversight

  • I support the full implementation of the oversight and accountability measures set out in Canada’s Privacy Plan, including: completely repealing Bill C-51, reinstating the office of the CSIS Inspector General, creating strong, independent control of the CSE, fully implementing the Privacy Commissioner’s 2014 Checks and Controls recommendations, and ensuring oversight bodies such as SIRC and OCSEC perform their role effectively.

  • The government must follow through on its commitment to place CSE under judicial control. Ministerial control is not a sufficient check on CSE’s vast surveillance powers.

  • Legislation that impacts Canadians’ privacy must be subject to regular statutory review.

  • Cross-parliamentary oversight of all government agencies carrying out surveillance activities must be independent and premised on access to all information necessary for assessing the effectiveness and proportionality of such activities.

  • Canada needs a review body modelled on SIRC that is adequately funded and empowered to fully review the human rights-impacting activities of all Canadian agencies, including CSE, CSIS, the RCMP, and CBSA.
  • Canada needs a panel of independent experts modeled on the United States' Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and mandated with critiquing its evolving national security framework.

Question 2: Secret Police Powers

Bill C-51 reverses decades of Canadian policy designed to prevent well-documented security agency abuses by granting CSIS sweeping new “secret police” powers to ‘disrupt’ citizens’ activities. It even allowed CSIS to contravene basic rights and freedoms.

  • I believe Bill C-51’s expansion of powers for CSIS should be completely repealed. CSIS should not be given powers more suited to law enforcement.

  • I support amending the CSIS Act to ensure that all CSIS activities must comply with the Charter, must not unduly impact on free expression, individual reputation, or privacy, and must not undermine the integrity of general communications networks.

  • CSIS’s responsibility should be restricted to collecting information, with police retaining primary responsibility for acting on that information.

  • CSIS should obtain judicial authorization for any disruption measure prior to its undertaking except when such a measure is necessary to address imminent and serious harm, in which case any actions taken must be submitted to a judge for approval as soon as possible.

Question 3: Information Sharing

Under Bill C-51, your private information can be shared with 17 government agencies. This includes sensitive information that can reveal everything from your financial status, to your medical history, your sexual orientation, and even your religious and political beliefs.

  • Bill C-51 enables dragnet information sharing that security experts warn is counterproductive. These provisions must be completely repealed.

  • To participate in modern life, we must share lots of information with our government. This information should not be repurposed into an open-ended intelligence dragnet.

  • Information-sharing of data entrusted to government agencies should only occur in narrow circumstances and the Privacy Commissioner must be empowered to assess the overall necessity and proportionality of any and all information-sharing activities

  • All government institutions should be required to keep thorough records of when they disclose our private information, including to foreign governments, and information-sharing in general should only occur subject to formalized agreements.

  • While surveillance and information-sharing powers have been updated repeatedly over the years in order to allow investigative agencies to keep up with technological change, the Privacy Act, a central and important centrepiece of Canada's federal privacy regime, has not been meaningfully updated since its introduction in the early 1980s. The Privacy Act must be brought into the digital age with the addition of strong, meaningful and modern protections.

Question 4: Internet Censorship

Bill C-51 empowers the government to silence dissenting voices without oversight or accountability.

  • Bill C-51 criminalizes “advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences in general.” This vague wording gives the government carte blanche to suppress any voice it doesn’t like. This provision should be completely repealed.

  • Creativity, expression, opinion, and art are not the same as terrorist propaganda. Through its “chill” effect, Bill C-51 undermines one of the chief freedoms of a democratic society: the right of every Canadian to free speech and free expression. The provisions of Bill C-51 criminalizing free expression should be completely repealed.

  • Bill C-51 contains measures that enable the government to remove online content and even delete websites from the Internet - directly undermining our Freedom of Expression, and Freedom of Thought, Belief, and Opinion. These provisions of Bill C-51 should be completely repealed.
  • Bill C-51’s information sharing powers allow Canadians to be targeted for engaging in activities of protest, advocacy, dissent, or artistic expression, chilling activity on and off the Internet. Canadians should never be targeted for exercising their right to free expression.

Question 5: Online Privacy

Governments have often obtained new tools and powers to push the limits of digital surveillance well beyond what could be done in the physical world. At the same time, the breadth and sensitivity of private information that is accessible through digital networks far exceeds what could be historically obtained.

  • Investigative tools in the digital world are very different from those in the physical world. Spy agencies around the world have exploited advances in technology to conduct invasive mass surveillance, including metadata collection, on an unprecedented scale. Steps must be taken to rein these excessive activities in.

  • Canadians deserve at least the same high level of privacy safeguards for our digital homes, as for our bricks-and-mortar homes, if not higher, given the highly sensitive data stores and interactions that are increasingly housed online.  

  • Nobody should ever be made a criminal for refusing to provide passwords to their mobile devices, computers, or Internet accounts.

  • CBSA should not be allowed to search our phones at borders or immigration crossings without a warrant based on reasonable and probable grounds.

  • Given how much information about our personal lives is held on our digital devices, they deserve the highest standard of privacy protections under the Charter and under the law.

Question 6: Telecom Providers and Surveillance

The government has tried to pass laws to force telecom providers to intercept communications, or to make it easier for government agencies to obtain our basic subscriber information.

  • I oppose mandatory data retention laws for telecommunications companies operating in Canada. Storing our private information in large, insecure databases leaves our sensitive data vulnerable to governments and malicious actors, and is extremely costly.

  • As the Supreme Court of Canada said in the Spencer case, digital identifiers (e.g., IP addresses) are highly revealing as they are the key to tracking and aggregating online activity and to linking it to individuals. With the proliferation of Stingrays (AKA: IMSI Catchers) digital identifiers increasingly facilitate real-world tracking as well. Digital identifiers (including basic subscriber information) are highly sensitive in our modern world, and should not be made available to investigators without a proportionate warrant.

  • Telecommunications companies should never be compelled by law or government pressure into adopting new interception capabilities.

  • Telecommunications companies should never be asked to spy on their own customers, and should not be forced to hand over their customers’ basic subscriber information without a proportionate warrant.

  • The government must end legal immunity for ‘voluntary’ warrantless disclosure of Canadians personal information, for example by telecom providers.

  • The costs of imposing surveillance obligations on Internet companies can have a disproportionate impact on small independent providers. This raises consumer costs, undermines competition, and risks our privacy for the sake of achieving dubious or ill-defined security gains.

Question 7: Encryption

Governments around the world wish to weaken security tools that keep all of us safe, such as encryption.

  • Strong encryption protects Canadians from identity theft, from ransomware that locks us out of our computers, and from vast networks that would take control of our Internet-connected devices and use them to launch cyber-attacks. Strong encryption means unbreakable encryption: it is impossible to create a “back door” for government agents that cannot also be exploited by hackers, foreign governments, and other malicious actors.

  • I expect the Canadian government to work toward strengthening encryption technologies, not weaken them. Canada should be a leader on encryption.

  • Innovators and entrepreneurs warn that weakening encryption will undermine trust in digital systems and activities.

  • At a time when everything from critical infrastructure to bank accounts is at more risk of being hacked than ever, it’s hard to imagine a more backwards idea than banning encryption and requiring backdoors. Security experts agree that encryption backdoors make us more vulnerable.

  • Our intelligence agencies cannot be permitted to prioritize spying over cyber-security. Our intelligence agencies must not work to undermine encryption standards so that they are easier to break, or hoard security vulnerabilities that should be fixed.
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Press: David Christopher | Phone: +1 (888) 441-2640 | Office: 1-604-633-2744 | david@openmedia.org