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Canada Unveils Internet Surveillance Legislation 272

An anonymous reader writes "Michael Geist is reporting on his blog that the Canadian government today introduced new legislation that would require ISPs to establish new surveillance controls to monitor Internet activity. The bill will also require ISPs to disclose subscriber information without a warrant. The bill may not survive given the state of the government, but this is a sad indicator of things to come."
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Canada Unveils Internet Surveillance Legislation

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  • by Cytlid ( 95255 ) * on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:35AM (#14041111)
    Need a law to create "intercept legislation".

    Some of us techies know it as "packet sniffers".
    • Re:Silly Canadians (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) *
      Question: If the surveillance is happening on the ISP's end as they route all of your traffic, how will you ever know, even with a packet sniffer?

      Anyway, I doubt this will come into existance. If it does, well...

      a) I'll be truly disappointed in our government, and
      b) I'll start using a hell of a lot more encryption.
    • Some of us Canadian techies know about those, as well as Part VI of the Criminal Code of Canada []. :P
    • Need a law to create "intercept legislation".

      No kidding. It's pretty bad when the first I hear of stuff like this is on Slashdot.

      Why is it so hard to have public input on these issues? American Idol/Canadian Idol can have these massive phone-ins where people vote on a singer of their choice. Why not have some sort of phone-based voting system that lets Canadians have a say on important issues like this? Oh wait, because these sorts of laws would never get passed that way.

      • whereiswaldo wrote: No kidding. It's pretty bad when the first I hear of stuff like this is on Slashdot.

        It was on the CBC yesterday, with the lack of warrents being a major point of contention. Don't expect to hear about it in the U.S., though: it's a "cooperation with our neighbours" initiative (;-))


      • In the recent election of a new leader for the Parti Quebecios was primarily a phone in vote... the problem seems to have been with registration since there have already been reports of at least one family dog and at least one houseplant were registered as members of the party and voted by phone.... I'm not sure what kind of plant it was, but it's helped to elect a Quebec seperatist to a position of power... so I guess the best thing we can say about phone in votes is that there are still some bugs to work
      • It's pretty bad when a fellow citizen actually thinks that you could hold a fair election by phoning in your votes. What is it, the new Diebold-phone system? It would be so incredibly easy to screw with the votes, and impossible to do a recount. Great frickin' idea.

        I'm all in favour of voting, but let's stick with the paper and pencil method for now, OK?
    • There is an overwhelming risk that Europe will get the same kind of privacy invading legislation through the Data Retention Directive [].

      If you are a European citizen you can sign a petition against the directive here [].

      According to a joint newspaper article by Swedish MEPs Charlotte Cederschiöld (conservative) and Jonas Sjöstedt (socialist) that was published some months ago, the only thing that can stop the directive is feedback to the politicians from the general public on the same scale as the software patents directive generated. I don't know if they are right in their assessment, but signing the petition against the directive is at least a first step.

      Personally, I would also like to see the European ISPs becoming more active and start spending some real money on lobbying.

      As long as it's only the old dinosaurs with pre-Internet business models that are spending lobbying money in Brussels/Washington/Ottawa/Canberra, we will continue to see bad pieces of legislation getting passed everywhere. It's time for a new generation of businesses to realize that politics don't take care of themselves, and that if you let the bad guys' lobbyists rein unopposed, there is a bill to be paid for it later.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        As long as it's only the old dinosaurs with pre-Internet business models that are spending lobbying money in Brussels/Washington/Ottawa/Canberra, we will continue to see bad pieces of legislation getting passed everywhere

        It's a combination of incumbant large businesses and fiscally liberal politicians from both parties, e.g. recording industry, which has much more to do with this than law enforcement, but law enforcement is buying on because they're being promised new ultra-powerful surveillance and interce
  • Like this'll pass (Score:5, Interesting)

    by YetAnotherDave ( 159442 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:35AM (#14041112)
    Given the state of the minority gov't, I'd be stunned if anything of substance passed, let alone something this offensive...
  • by 5, Troll ( 919133 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:35AM (#14041113) Journal
    The press releases are spinning this as an update of the wiretap law.

    For those of us who are not legal experts, can someone clarify the procedure to obtain a wiretap?

    With respect to this bill, the CBC report at /surveillance051114.html?ref=rss []

    "However, McLellan said that just like in the old wiretap days, police investigators will have to get the approval of a judge before they can have access."

    This sounds different from the article.
    • by linuxbert ( 78156 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:10AM (#14041277) Homepage Journal
      In Canada, Wiretap requires a warrent. You have to convince a judge that one is needed, and theri has to be a high level of confidence that one is required, and will provide needed information.

      CSIS - essentally the Canadian version of the CIA can listen to what it wants - no warents or oversight needed. the catch is that information CSIS collects through its methods is not admisable in court, though they have in the past provieded information to the RCMP.

      Your employer however can monitor your communications on their network at their pleasure, provided you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. If you are presented with a logon banner, stating that you are subject to monitoring, and have a signed usage agreement, then you can be monitored. These logs can be turned over to law enforcement without a warrent - they a the companies propery and they can concent to search.

      IANAL - i just had a lecture on this.
  • No right to privacy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:35AM (#14041114) Journal
    Does no-one have the right to privacy anymore? For probable cause before getting searched? (Note: I don't know if these things are protected in Canada's constitution, however I do know that for the most part, while America has been whittling away its citizen's rights, Canada hasn't). I guess New Zealand really is the only place left that can be considered the land of the free.
    • by bhirsch ( 785803 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:45AM (#14041159) Homepage
      Canada basically doesn't have a Bill of Rights like the US. There is a similar constitutional amendment (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms), but its language makes it very easy to circumvent (ie, it can be violated for what is seen as a good reason). Beyond that, let's keep in mind there is no right to privacy in the US constitution beyond the fourth amendment's guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure.

      Keep in mind that Canada, like many other countries, has laws forbidding hate speech. I believe it is still illegal to voice skepticism about the holocaust in Canada.
      • Beyond that, let's keep in mind there is no right to privacy in the US constitution beyond the fourth amendment's guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure.

        Perhaps that's true if the Constitution is narrowly interpreted. But, Supreme Court precendents have not taken a narrow interpretation. As described on Autonomy [] :

        The Supreme Court first recognized an independent right of privacy within the 'penumbra' (fringe area) of the Bill of Rights in Griswol

      • let's keep in mind there is no right to privacy in the US constitution beyond the fourth amendment's guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure.

        Let's also keep in mind the words of the 9th Amendment:

        "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

        In other words, just because a right didn't make onto the Top Ten List, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The writings of the founding fathers were quite clear on this.

    • IANAL (Score:5, Informative)

      by The Amazing Fish Boy ( 863897 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:51AM (#14041194) Homepage Journal
      Canadian Constitution [] says:
      8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

      S.8 protects a persons right to be secure against unreasonable searches and/or seizures. There is no constitutional warrant requirement. If there was a constitutional warrant requirement s.8 would state "Everyone has the right to be secure against warrantless search or seizure". However, the Supreme Court of Canada has adopted the position that all warrantless searches are prima facie unreasonable. What this proposition enunciates is that when a search is conducted in the absence of a warrant (prior judicial authorization) the search will be presumed to be "unreasonable" and therefore a violation of s.8 of the Charter.
      • But even though warrantless searches may be inviolation of section 8 of the Charter, fruits of such search may in some cases still be admissable. Under section 24, subsection 2 of the Charter: "the evidence shall be excluded if it is established that, having regard to all circumstances, the admission of it in the proceedings would bring the administration of justice into disrepute".

        The Charter has many such clauses, enough so that as a legal document it's barely worth using as asswipe.
  • by Lockz ( 556773 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:40AM (#14041136)
    As there will most likely be a non-confidence vote passed this week, anything introduced now is quite futile, and the government knows it. They will throw this out there and then show it as an example of the "wonderful" legislation that will be lost if they are defeated.
  • by Spazntwich ( 208070 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:41AM (#14041138)
    Encryption technology is advancing more quickly than technology to crack it. This is just going to force people with something to hide underground.

    Like gun laws, this is just feel-good rights-restricting bullshit put out by politicians to pander to the idiot masses. Nobody will benefit in the long run.
    • Encryption technology is advancing more quickly than technology to crack it.

      Loads of people have been charged with having kiddie porn on their computer systems in my country (.au) and elsewhere. Some of these people may have heard about encryption but few actually use it.

      Encryption is a tech thing. Not generally used by normal people. Or even normal criminals.

      • Yes but these were the same idiots who were willing to give their credit cards to a company in Russia selling CP. I mean really.... If Australia had the death penalty that would be Darwinism.
        • these were the same idiots who were willing to give their credit cards to a company in Russia selling CP.

          Yes, but the material on their PC's made the case. Same with the recent arrests of terrorists. Some had downloaded bomb making plans and left them floating around on their systems.

    • It's like requiring a deadbolt lock on a glass door.


  • by Foktip ( 736679 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:41AM (#14041141)
    why is it all the nasty canadian bills end in the number "4"?

    C64... evil copyright stuff
    C74... insane spying stuff
  • A new america (Score:3, Interesting)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:42AM (#14041145) Homepage Journal
    I wish there was an unknown land somewhere, where I could establish a country of my own.

    I would have a Constitution that would guarantee the freedome of speech, freedome of thought and would require the citizens to be personally responsible for their lives. Drugs would be legal. There would be no speed limits. There would be no taxes. People could make personal charitable donations to the causes they support and observe their donations being used in a completely transparent way. Everyone would be guaranteed to carry weapons but murderers/rapists would be punished severely and publically.

    And in my country, the Constitution would guarantee privacy of individuals and would completely forbid any government system to come to change that. No matter what the reasons for change are: more 'security', more 'protection' etc.

    A man can dream.
    • Re:A new america (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:21AM (#14041328) Homepage Journal
      require the citizens to be personally responsible for their lives. Drugs would be legal. There would be no speed limits.

      When people drive, they are also responsible for other people's lives, wether they realise it or not. Hence the speed limits.

      Especially if you're gonna have people driving high on coke.

      Anyway, go play nationstates [], it's free, and fun for a while.
      • Re:A new america (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RexRhino ( 769423 )
        How much do you want to bet that no matter how many coke heads are driving real fast on the highway, they won't kill anywhere near as many people as the 170 million killed by governments in the 20th century (not including wars).

        Check out: []

        Given the history of genocide, warefare, and mass-murder commited all around the world by governments, I would say I would rather err on the side of caution when it comes to police states.
    • oh yeah? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tezkah ( 771144 )
      If pure libertarianism really works, why isn't there countries like this?

      Because it doesn't work in reality. A pure libertarian system in reality would be just as flawed as a pure communist system, even though both in theory sound great.

      • Re:oh yeah? (Score:2, Insightful)

        Or perhaps to found one at this point, there being no new lands to found a new country with, you'd need a revolution of some kind to have one. Either a violent uprising, or a drastic change in thought. As violent revolution has unbelievably high costs, in lives and funds, and drastic changes in thought require there to be thought at the individual voter level, neither of these things are likely.

        Unless things get so bad that daily life is in the crapper, the cost of violent revolution is too great.

        And give

    • Re:A new america (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kuukai ( 865890 )
      Marx dreamed. Jefferson dreamed. Things don't always go the way you think they will, even if you're as smart as those guys. I for one would hate to live in a country where the streets aren't safe to drive on all because some guy who bought the island had some crazy ideology about law. That kinda defies the entire primary purpose of government (to keep other people from killing me or taking my stuff). Not to mention some of your laws are contradictory. How are you perserving privacy if you punish murde
  • by Foktip ( 736679 )
    Seriously though, i've been reading and thinking about this for some time now (on my blog anways)... and, well, I dont think ANYBODY can afford this! The way things get massively over-priced when the government gets involved, and the sort of price for massive projects like this, the database for such info itself would dry up the allocated spending! Really - and no, they cant pass this onto consumers, because internet is a price sensitive market. People will switch to small carriers who dont have to compl
  • The same stuff may happen in the US in one form or another, but at least we can point to the 4th amendment and say that the government cannot legally do that.
    • In Canada, they can point to section 8; however, pointing is mostly useless. Sometimes it takes someone to rally people together -- to take a stand against the minority who are hell-bent on creating the means that one day will be used for the perpetration of injustice.

      It is not only this legislation, and it is certainly not a phenomenon confined to one country. Sadly, I can think of no truly "shining city upon a hill" where this is not a significant problem -- where such affronts to individual freedom are
  • by Goalie_Ca ( 584234 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:55AM (#14041218)
    It's a minority government and we're about to head into an election. Then when things resume there will be "more important" issues.
  • Just because we (Canadians) have a minority government that is troubled with a scandal doesn't mean that we should let our guard down. If it fails now (which it most likely will), doesn't mean that they won't try to create a similar or possibly worse bill later one.

    "One should not allow even a drop of civil rights or human rights to be sacrificed ... every bit you lose, the oppressor gains." Sivaram Velauthapillai
  • It will never pass. (Score:3, Informative)

    by iamghetto ( 450099 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:37AM (#14041372) Homepage
    The Liberal (as in the party in power) government in Canada is close to be being brought down. Inspite of the Liberal's opposition, a no-confidence motion should be put on the table and passed by the end of the month. While the bill will still be introduced, once the government falls the bill will die before it has a chance to be written into law.

    While I'll hate the upcoming election, I'll enjoy this law not being passed.

    • While I'll hate the upcoming election, I'll enjoy this law not being passed.

      While the bill will die, who of the possible election winners wouldn't cheerfully introduce something similar when law enforcement inevitably lobbies for it again?

      • The Liberals would be as likely to do so as now.
      • The Conservatives as led by Stephen Harper don't strike me as more skeptical of the demands of law enforcement than the Liberals.
      • The NDP won't win; if they were to hold the balance of power in another minority governm
  • For any of you in the Calgary area: The University of Calgary Liberal Association is having their annual fundraiser on November 23rd. It includes, as one of its silent auction items, a chance to have lunch with Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, the Minister responsible for this legislation. Tickets can be bought online. []
  • I hope people realize that all countries are not at all immune to Patriot Act-like behaviors. The next time you feel embarrassed to be an American, you start eating freedom fries and pouring out your beaujolais, think about Canada. Canada!! Now it's Canada that's pulling this crap, how random. We are not getting Fed in the A nearly as hard as many of you contend.
  • If I thought that kicking out the current government was going to change things, I would be all for it..but there is a good change that the PQ, or the so-called Conservatives (aka the reheated Reform Party) would end up in charge, and neither of them are any better than the Liberals, and are probably much worse. Must be time to join the NDP!

  • by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:52AM (#14041414) Homepage Journal
    The Copyright Act ammendments in C-60 include wiretap rules for ISPs I thought? Maybe Heritage Canada is getting antsy that they can't slip it through, and want to shove it in with a quicky bill before parliament collapses in a couple weeks? It seems unlikely that they could do it what with 3 readings being required, but the real danger is that when the Liberals or Conservatives get back into power after the election, it will just go through then. I've seen nothing from the Conservatives that they'd work against these bad bills, and they are the only realistic governing alternative if the Greens or NDP don't get swing seats.
  • by bzipitidoo ( 647217 ) <> on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:55AM (#14041425) Journal
    TFA nicely dissects the given reasons as wrongheaded thinking to outright b.s. What organizations sponsored this horror? MPAA/RIAA? The Security Industrial Complex? Could be revealing to learn which lawmakers sponsored this and who their biggest political donors are.
  • Oh Canada! (Score:4, Funny)

    by slashbob22 ( 918040 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @02:00AM (#14041445)
    Oh Canada!
    My online spying land!
    Telco intercept at CSIS's command

    With packet sniff and account info
    The True North now South and "free"

    From net and mobe,
    Oh Canada, we foil(*) our heads for thee.

    ISAKMP our tunnels to the free(**)
    Oh Canada, we foil our heads for thee

    Oh Canada, we foil our heads for thee!

    a) Tin Foil - Aluminum Foil [] has been shown not to work.

    a) Patch to avoid DOS []
    b) Avoid tunneling to the US [] or China [] both have stronger anti-communication laws

    Canadian Government Information Site []
  • Fear is King (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aeoo ( 568706 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @02:10AM (#14041480) Journal
    "You have nothing to fear but fear itself."
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @03:14AM (#14041714) Homepage Journal
    People, the powers that be want this stuff. It doesn't matter if you live in UK or USA or Canada or whatever. There will be haggles about whether it's legal or not, there will be haggles about whose responsibility it is to spend the money to provide intercept capability, and different jurisdictions will end up with different rules.

    But in the end, none of it will ever work without your consent. All people have to do, is Just Say No, and the powers that be will be totally fucked, unless they crack down so hard (pretty much outlaw all encryption) that the side-effects will be unacceptable to everyone -- and thus it won't be doable. We can stop this shit forever (assuming lack of certain breakthroughs) if we can just get non-nerds interested enough to create the network effects and critical mass.

    Tap my communications, and maybe you can learn a bit from traffic analysis, but you won't know what I'm saying if you can't crack the ciphers. And maybe you can compromise me if you focus on me, just as you can compromise a criminal when you're willing to get a warrant and break into his home and install a bug. But they can't do that to all 5 or 6 billion of us. With encryption, we can deny them the capacity to install a massive driftnet to fish for dirt on everybody.

    And the way to do this, is to decentralize control and encrypt. Your telecom provider is required to install a backdoor and let people spy on you without your knowledge? Well, that doesn't work if you are your own telecom provider -- what are they going to say: "don't tell yourself"? Anything over a public net has to be encrypted. Make the endpoints be the only viable intercept points.

    It will impede organized criminals, it will impede nosey sysops, it will impede crackers who compromise the in-between systems that you currently blindly trust, it will impede the unethical marketing division of your communication providers, and yes, it will impede law enforcement. But even if you're a diehard statist and insist that Big Brother has the right to watch us, do we not still have a right to be protected against all the Little Brothers? You can't have it both ways -- you can't give the good guys this power and keep it away from the bad guys. That is not possible. So pick your poison: a free society where Bad Guys have privacy too, or one where we always feel like maybe we're being watched, not by one benevolent eye, but many who unlike government, don't even operate under the pretense of serving our interests.

  • by bareminimum ( 456719 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @03:21AM (#14041732)
    Those of you unfamiliar with the current state of Canadian politics may find it interesting to learn that the current Gvt is in a minority position and since Monday has completely lost control of the Parliament. They have no intention of regaining it - i.e. we will have elections as soon as the opposition decides to put its trousers on and defeat the Gvt on a confidence motion (i.e. financial)

    Therefore in an attempt to stall said oposition and force them into election the Gvt has presented many incomplete bills today knowing that none of them will have a chance to pass.

    Sorry but nothing to see here, maybe next year.
  • that's it! (Score:3, Funny)

    by idlake ( 850372 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @04:36AM (#14041935)
    With this sort of BS happening here, I'm moving to Canada. No, wait...
  • Intro to non-geeks (Score:3, Informative)

    by danharan ( 714822 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:52AM (#14044076) Journal
    Wrote this for a non-geek audience. So far only one other media picked up on this... any comments before this goes out in the canadian political discussion boards? (Written for lefties that have not been historically on to tech issues)

    Bill C-74 was introduced November 15th:
    An Act regulating telecommunications facilities to facilitate the
    lawful interception of information transmitted by means of
    those facilities and respecting the provision of telecommunications
    subscriber information
    Whereas a wiretap requires a warrant this new law would force an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to intercept communications from customers and hand over customer lists with a simple letter from a law enforcement official. Any future software deployed by the ISP would have to have a back door, which includes internet telephony.

    Alerted by legal scholar Michal Geist's writing on the subject, [] the tech-nerds are calling for resistance including providing end-to-end encryption (see slashdot []).

    The techies realize that criminals will encrypt their communication- at least those most dangerous to national security. Those that remain are the petty criminals and civilians who won't know how to protect their privacy. The public won't be more secure, but we will have more surveillance; the panopticon culture grows.

    For new software, any ISP will have to choose the version most suited to increase its snooping capacities, even if they have to acquire additional licenses or communication facilities. To put it plainly: when they start offering VoIP (Voice over Internet protocol) services, ISPs will have to allow tapping without a warrant. Additional costs have to be swallowed by the ISP.

    What is perhaps most pernicious in the economic sense isn't that these compliance costs will be passed on- it is that innovation will be stifled. Right now a small VoIP player could get started on ridiculously small amounts of capital. The effect of these regulations will be to protect oligopolies.

    Ironically, as the new technologies have be designed for ease of surveillance, crackers (criminal or black-hat hackers) will likely be able to leverage these back doors to their ends. Stalking, industrial espionage and snooping for blackmail or identity theft material all become more likely. Making surveillance easy for the RCMP and CSIS could make it trivial for criminals, even terrorists to get to sensitive information.

    Here's to hoping the NDP will firmly trash this nonsense. Or do we trust those that film us at every peace demonstration (and happily send off immigrants back to their countries of origin for questioning) with more surveillance power?

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller