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Canadians oppose online spying bill

Categories Biometrics News  |  Surveillance

A recent opinion poll conducted by Forum Research shows strong opposition to the Canadian government’s proposed online spying legislation.

The poll shows that 73 percent of Canadians oppose C-13, with just 15 percent approving, a ratio of nearly 5 to 1 opposed.

Bill C-13 would give police new powers to monitor the private data of Canadians. C-13 was tabled as a “cyberbullying” law but also includes clauses to strengthen the power of various government officials to monitor mobile phones and other electronic data and track Canadian residents.

While a warrant is still required in most cases, the bill explicitly permits law enforcement officials to seek private information from telephone companies, who under the bill can voluntarily hand over certain subscriber data to police, border guards, or other officials, with full legal impunity.

Opposition to bill, according to the Forum Research poll, spans every age group and is strongest among 18-34 year olds (78 percent) and 55-64 year olds (74 percent). Opposition is consistent across income levels, particularly among those earning between $40,000 to $60,000 (78 percent) and $80,000 to $100,000 (78 percent) per year.

Civil liberties groups and privacy commissioners across Canada have expressed a tremendous amount of concern about the proposed legislation.

“This poll reflects how Canadians have come together from right across the political spectrum to oppose the government’s reckless and irresponsible spying bill,” said Steve Anderson, Executive Director of OpenMedia, an advocacy group that promotes digital privacy. “This government has a terrible track record on privacy and I hope this poll will encourage it to pull back on its insulting and reckless online spying legislation.”

BiometricUpdate.com recently reported that a major report in Canada was released which found that surveillance in Canada is expanding, mostly unchecked, into every facet of life. In response, Canadian academics and privacy groups mobilized to issue a statement against mass spying efforts pursued by government.

“Privacy is a fundamental human right and a core Canadian value,” Anderson said. “The government has mismanaged our data security and it’s past time we begin to address the privacy deficit they’ve put this country in.”

Civil liberties groups began expressing concern when Chantal Bernier, Canada’s Interim Privacy Commissioner, first revealed a document showing that telecoms already receive data requests from government agencies and had processed over 1.2 million requests in 2011. Bernier noted that the most “troubling aspects” about the bill include “a lack of accountability and reporting mechanisms”.

The Supreme Court of Canada also ruled last month that “warrantless spying” is unconstitutional, putting the proposed bill, and the government’s entire online surveillance strategy, in jeopardy.

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