New measures to undermine privacy proposed just days after the government’s spy agency CSE revealed to be spying on private online activities of law-abiding Canadians on a massive scale
January 30, 2015 – The federal government’s just announced Bill C-51 will further undermine Canadians’ privacy while doing nothing to address privacy violations revealed just days ago. That’s according to digital rights group OpenMedia.ca, which is leading a nationwide coalition calling for stronger privacy protections. Over 46,000 people have spoken out recently through OpenMedia privacy campaigns calling on Prime Minister Harper to end mass surveillance and improve spy agency accountability and transparency.
Bill C-51 will give spy agencies new powers to access Canadians’ private information, including passport application information and sensitive commercial data. The legislation will also override privacy protections in multiple pieces of legislation to increase information sharing between government agencies, which has prompted the federal Privacy Commissioner to speak out. It also greatly expands the domestic powers of CSIS, including the power to place Canadians on a no fly list.
“Experts and even Stephen Harper himself agree that targeted intelligence is more effective than dragnet surveillance of entire populations”, said David Christopher, OpenMedia.ca’s communications manager. “Yet this plan appears to further encourage reckless sharing of our sensitive private information rather than providing a clear path for effective targeted action.”
Following case taken by concerned Canadians and public interest groups, CRTC says mobile providers cannot markup independent services like Netflix to give their own content an unfair advantage
January 29, 2015 – A landmark decision from the CRTC today has determined that Bell Mobility unlawfully made competing mobile apps and services more expensive for Canadians by unfairly exempting their own services from monthly data caps. The CRTC directed Bell to stop their unlawful practice in the next 90 days. The ruling sets a precedent for mobile providers across Canada.
Canadian spy agency has been caught monitoring over 100 popular file-storage websites, spying on millions of downloads a day, with Canadian Internet addresses among the targets
January 28, 2015 – Canadian spy agency CSE is indiscriminately monitoring the private online activities of millions of Internet users, including Canadians. According to CBC News and The Intercept, CSE monitored over 100 popular file hosting websites, including RapidShare and SendSpace, spying on millions of downloads a day. They also collected millions of IP addresses of individual users, with a number of Canadian Internet addresses among the targets.
Findings from the program are collected and shared with foreign spy agencies. All of this activity has been undertaken without users’ knowledge or consent. The program, named LEVITATION, dates back to at least 2012, while Peter MacKay was the Defence Minister responsible for CSE. The news breaks as MacKay, now Justice Minister, prepares to announce new measures to undermine Canadians’ privacy in legislation expected to be unveiled on Friday.
“CSE is clearly spying on the private online activities of millions of innocent people, including Canadians, despite repeated government assurances to the contrary”, said OpenMedia.ca communications manager David Christopher. “Law-abiding Internet users who use popular file hosting services are now finding themselves under the government’s microscope.”
Internet advocates celebrate Obama’s move, and point to it as the type of action required to get Canada’s Internet rates and speeds on par with global counterparts.
January 14, 2015 – Internet advocates are celebrating this afternoon’s announcement from the Obama Administration pushing for common-sense steps to stop U.S. telecom giants from blocking American Internet users from more affordable Internet services. The news comes on the heels of the U.S. FCC increasing minimum Internet speeds over six times from 4Mbps to 25Mbps.
President Obama urged the FCC to override outdated laws in 19 states preventing independent options for Internet services, and called for new funding for municipal and rural broadband. Community-backed digital rights organization OpenMedia.ca says Canadian decision-makers should be embarrassed when comparing today’s announcement with Canada’s widely criticized and unambitious digital strategy, which set out minimum speeds of just 5 Mbps by 2019.
Within days of new copyright rules coming into force, U.S. copyright trolls started asking ISPs to pass on threatening and misleading messages to their customers. Copyright expert Michael Geist posted samples on his blog that threatened a $150,000 lawsuit and disconnection from the Internet – neither of which are possible under Canadian law.
The pricing changes could make access costs nearly double for smaller ISPs. Community-backed OpenMedia.ca sees this as an attempt to block Canadians from the few affordable alternatives they have. Right now, large incumbent telecom providers like Shaw control 90% of the residential broadband market. However, Shaw’s proposed 87.9% rate hike still needs to be approved by the CRTC.