Government Moves Toward Warrantless Online Spying; Amends Consumer Protection Bill
Amendment to PIPEDA Gives ISPs Carte Blanche to Give out Customer Information
September 29, 2011 – As Canada waits for the Conservatives to introduce their warrantless online spying bills (Lawful Access), the government today introduced a bill that takes a step toward eroding the privacy rights of Internet users. The bill amends PIPEDA—Canada's federal privacy protection statute—in a way that would allow ISPs to provide Canadians’ private information to a range of ‘authorities’, including private companies contemplating lawsuits.
The amendment bypasses many of the safeguards that PIPEDA puts in place by adding and expanding exceptions that allow ISPs to give away Canadians’ personal data without their knowledge or consent in investigative scenarios. In fact, organizations are, in some cases, restricted from informing individuals that their information has been shared.
PIPEDA already includes measures to allow online service providers to give government authorities the information they request. The amendment will free online service providers of any obligation to take even basic steps to ensure those requests are reasonable. Public interest group OpenMedia.ca says the amendment introduced today is an unnecessary expansion of powers.
“The amendment tabled today will only serve to undermine law-abiding citizens’ privacy rights,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “Canadians need to feel secure in order to take advantage of all the Internet has to offer. This bill—and the warrantless online spying bills to come—undermine reasonable expectations of privacy and serve only to weaken personal data security.”
The amendment to PIPEDA—while it does have a few positive points—does pave the way for the government to introduce the warrantless online spying bills they promised during the election. The online spying bills would force every phone and Internet provider to surrender personal information to "authorities" without a warrant. Over 70,000 Canadians have stood up against the bills by signing the petition at http://StopSpying.ca.
OpenMedia.ca is a non-partisan, non-profit public engagement organization working to advance and support an open and innovative communications system in Canada. Our primary goal is to increase informed participation in Internet governance.
About the Stop Online Spying Coalition
The Stop Online Spying campaign is supported by a group of public interest organizations, civil liberties groups, businesses, and concerned academics that have come together to encourage the government to reconsider "Lawful Access" legislation. The group points out that this type of legislation enables warrantless surveillance that is invasive, excessive and costly.
Communications Manager, OpenMedia.ca
Stop Online Spying petition homepage
Stop Online Spying public education campaign
Industry Canada’s Press Release: Government of Canada Moves to Enhance Privacy of Individuals during Commercial Transactions
CIPPIC Joins Civil Society in Denouncing Anti-Privacy Privacy Bill (earlier version of PIPEDA amendment)
Survey indicates vast majority of Canadians oppose warrantless online spying
Globe and Mail: Conservative majority would hustle crime bills into law all at once
Joint letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper from academics and public interest organizations
NDP MPs Angus & Sandhu write to Toews: Online spying bills are "disturbing"
Letter to Public Safety Canada from Canada's Privacy Commissioners and Ombudspersons on the current 'Lawful Access' proposals
More links: http://openmedia.ca/stopspying/resources#links