CBC: Online spying bill has an Orwellian feel

Image from Corey Burger on Flickr

Without your efforts at spreading the word about this invasive new online spying bill, it would have likely sailed smoothly through the House of Commons. Your voices are echoing through the halls of Parliament—let's keep up the charge. Email your MP about online spying here: http://openmedia.ca/mp

Article by Terry Milewski for CBC:

"There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time." - George Orwell, 1984.

It's often forgotten that, for Orwell, 1984 was far in the future — a distant and imaginary hell. Published 35 years earlier, in 1949, his book conjured up a surveillance state filled with chilling new concepts: "Big Brother," "Thought Police" and "Newspeak."

Today, 1984 has come and gone but Big Brother is real and present in ways Orwell never imagined. In China, the very names of imprisoned dissidents are banned from the internet. In Saudi Arabia, an unholy tweet can bring you a death sentence.

Here in Canada, though, freedom reigns. A sign of that may be that the government's new plan for policing cyberspace is in big trouble.

Within 24 hours of its unsteady launch, the government pledged to send its new legislation straight to committee for amendments — some of which may come from the restive Conservative back benches. The bill is "too intrusive," said New Brunswick Conservative MP John Williamson. Conservative voices across the land agreed — to say nothing of NDP and Liberal ones.

Conservative MPs don't usually grumble about Conservative legislation — especially when one of their front-line cabinet ministers has declared that Canadians must "either stand with us or with the child pornographers."

That remarkable statement by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews may have much to do with the anger at his bill — but it hardly accounts for all of it. When his critics described the comment variously as "stupid," "insulting" and "disgusting," Toews at first denied having said it — which, of course, led everyone to replay the tape of him saying it.

But it was not the only comment made by Toews that he may have cause to regret.

Just as remarkable were the unequivocal statements made by him and by his senior officials that the bill, known as C-30, includes no extension of the state's power to conduct warrantless searches. None at all, said the officials — and the minister agreed.

"In terms of access, nothing has changed in the law," Toews declared.

But his bill would, in fact, dramatically change the law to allow the government much, much more access to our online lives and identities. Read more »

Read more at cbc.ca

Send a message to your MP »