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The Disastrous Privacy Consequences of Canada's Anti-Terrorism Bill 116

An anonymous reader writes "Canada's proposed anti-terrorism legislation is currently being debated in the House of Commons, with the government already serving notice that it plans to limit debate. Michael Geist argues that decision has enormous privacy consequences, since the bill effectively creates a "total information awareness" approach that represents a radical shift away from our traditional understanding of public sector privacy protection. The bill permits information sharing across government for an incredibly wide range of purposes, most of which have nothing to do with terrorism and opens the door to further disclosure "to any person, for any purpose." The cumulative effect is to grant government near-total power to share information for purposes that extend far beyond terrorism with few safeguards or privacy protections."
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The Disastrous Privacy Consequences of Canada's Anti-Terrorism Bill

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...before Canada bent to the will of the US

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cayenne8 ( 626475 )
      Actually, I was thinking this was basically a test run of this type thing before the US tries passing the same thing.

      We're losing our freedoms and rights here pretty badly, but nothing quite yet as bad as this sound like in CA.

      • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @01:35PM (#49088657)
        You need to re-read the PATRIOT act.
        • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @01:52PM (#49088831) Homepage

          No, it's a feedback loop. The exact same thing is happening with copyright.

          America (and all of the five eyes) want additional laws and powers. Those laws and powers are currently illegal and unpopular.

          So, one of the five eyes gets talked into passing a law which goes much further. And then the rest of them all say "see, we need these powers too".

          The exact same thing has been happening with copyright, and spying provisions ... they play off one another to expand the powers internationally, and then push to get the same things domestically.

          Essentially most western governments now have three magic keys to the kingdom: copyright, terrorism, and child porn.

          These three things are being used to march the goalposts further down the field, and the consequences for the rest of our liberties be damned.

          The five-eyes are flunkies in advancing the interests of corporations, and conspiring together to give us global fascism and surveillance. The Western democracies are all actively trying to say "fuck you and your rights, this is what we do, this is who we share it with, and if you don't like it fuck off".

          Essentially the governments and spy agencies of the five-eyes are larger threats to our liberties than the people they claim to be protecting us from.

          And they seem to not give a damn what they do to get there.

          • by zlives ( 2009072 )

            the empire must fall some how... that is the the sound of inevitability...

          • America doesn't want that. The government does.

            They're two very different things.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Then why does America vote for that government?

              • by Anonymous Coward

                It doesn't matter who you vote for when all the candidates are picked by the two parties.

            • America does want that, the fear mongering and bigotry runs rampant in just enough of America to allow this to continue.
              May be one day enough America may not want it... might be too late by then.

      • Few years back I ended up with a connecting flight that returned though NY to Toronto. No layover (actually had to run between flights because there was only 30min between flights). So here I was with little time to spare. Then I find out the US wants you to go through customs even if you aren't staying in the country. When I saw the finger print reader I literally said: "I don't want to stay in your hell whole and you aren't getting my finger prints". They didn't scan me. Not sure if they are more accommod

        • Anyways sad to see Canada go the way of big brother. Canada is like the Bush administration ... except he never left office.

          It isn't like obama is any better than bush on this and many other aspects of life these days, in fact, it seems to just be getting worse.

    • by doccus ( 2020662 )
      We were always further down that path than America ever was. For most of our history we have noy even had a constitutionand our bill of "rights" laughably put, was written in the 1700s by the British, who we of course know care so vewry much about privacy and rights themselves, and kings in the 1700 even less so...Any PM could invoke martial law at any time for any reason throughout our history as Trudeau did in 1970 and we all did during the world wars, doing to the *canadian born* Japanese precisely what
      • by doccus ( 2020662 )
        Sorry about the spooling arrears. Eye is bline. No, seriously, I have a progressive co-oedination issue. It makes it really hard to both type and spell at any rate faster than 15 cpm. Getting old sux.
  • by waspleg ( 316038 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @01:22PM (#49088539) Journal

    I guess I can't threaten to move there anymore as the US pot boils over.

    • Yeah, cause somebody cares about you "threatening" to move to Canada.
    • Nah, this will pass then get thrown out once it gets to trial.

      The current Canadian government has passed several "mean to the accused" bills, but every one has been thrown out by the courts.

  • Papers, Comrade (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erp_consultant ( 2614861 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @01:22PM (#49088543)

    Welcome to the modern day fascist state. Privacy is a luxury no longer afforded to everyday citizens.

  • by Layzej ( 1976930 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @01:22PM (#49088551)

    The wording is sufficiently vague to permit a Canadian Security Intelligence Service investigation of anyone who challenges the Conservatives' social, economic or environmental policies, the Opposition leader said during the daily question period.

    "What's to stop this bill from being used to spy on the government's political enemies?"

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper dismissed the suggestion, telling the House of Commons the NDP had entered the realm of conspiracy theory.

    "That's what we've come to expect from the black helicopter fleet over there." - []

    • by lazarus ( 2879 )

      Democracy is rule by the result of a popularity contest, and no government wants to be caught having the charge of "not protecting the people" leveled against them because that makes them unpopular. Not the current government, and not the next one either.

      In a year and a half when the election is in full-swing someone will ask Justin if he will repeal it. He'll avoid the question (probably), and even if he agrees to it, he'll renege once he is elected. Why? Because it's good for him to have it in place,

    • The fact that Harper is calling the NDP paranoid would be funny if this bill wasn't basically a guaranteed slam dunk. :( Harper is highly paranoid and isn't above spying to begin with. A paranoid coward with power is a dangerous person indeed. :/
    • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @01:38PM (#49088685) Homepage

      Government will always abuse power eventually. Suppose we elected a moral government that would never abuse their power (it's a hypothetical situation that will never be reality so might as well fill it with hypothetical politicians that will never be real), they make a law with good intentions, but one that has a loophole that could be abused. Supporters might say "this government would never abuse it because they gave their word/they are such good people/they don't believe in that sort of thing." Maybe the supporters would even be right. But governments always change.

      Even if the present government was perfectly aligned to never abuse that law, the next one might be. Or the one after that. And when the government is in place that WILL abuse the law, it might not be abusing it in a way that happens to further your political views (and thus might result in you turning a blind eye to the abuse like people tend to do when it supports their causes).

      So even if we assume that Harper is right and their current government would never abuse this law, what's to stop the next government from abusing it?

      This is why, whenever a new law is proposed to grant government new powers, I always ask supporters how they would like it if PERSON_FROM_OPPOSING_POLITICAL_POWER was in charge and had those powers. All too often people support new government powers without oversight because it supports their causes without thinking ahead about how other politicians will abuse them.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @01:27PM (#49088591) Homepage

    They're quick to tell us how this is going to make us more secure, but they've utterly failed to demonstrate how existing laws are inadequate, or that these news laws would have helped at all in anything they've missed.

    This is the drooling "we need to give the security people the tools to do their job", while ignoring the legal protections we're supposed to have, and failing to justify these new powers.

    And, of course, the government spokesman said how this proposal was met well by the other people in the "five eyes" ... of course they're going to love it, they get a share of the fucking take.

    We don't give a shit about what a foreign government thinks about our security and information sharing, because they greedily want this shit.

    We give a shit about the fact that this is illegal, unnecessary, completely unjustified, and completely lacking in proper checks and balances.

    This is a government operating on a "law and order" agenda who doesn't give a fuck about the law.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "disastrous privacy consequences"

      The summary (and article) implies that destroying privacy is merely a consequence of the new law. But who's to say that destroying privacy isn't one of the objectives, or even the primary objective of the new law? After all, the actions of those in power would certainly suggest that destroying privacy is a major goal, since each and every year brings a new round of war on privacy.

    • Whenever I hear a politician claim "terrorists", I think of that dog from the movie Up. He's just talking normally and then - SQUIRREL! - followed by him losing his train of thought and starting over. Except the politician thinks that we, the electorate, are the dog and that "terrorist" will make us lose focus and wind up supporting whatever inane bill they propose.

      "We have to endure body cavity searches to get on airlines now? That's outrageous! I'm going to protest this by - TERRORIST! What was I tal

      • Disney/Pixar will post their cease and desist letter shortly:

        You may not use copyrighted characters in your discussions...

    • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @02:01PM (#49088929)

      They're quick to tell us how this is going to make us more secure, but they've utterly failed to demonstrate how existing laws are inadequate.

      And we stumbled onto a VERY important point. Legislators are often guilty of passing a new law because they want to be seen as "doing something" about a problem. FEW of them actually ask the question "So what laws do we have NOW that address this and do we need to modify them?" Even fewer would actually understand the answer.

      This is about politics, about Public Relations and how I can burnish my image and tarnish my opponent. So if I can pass a law and claim to have addressed the issue, I have advanced MYSELF. Who cares if it's the right thing to do or if making a minor tweak to existing law or budgets would be a better, faster, cheaper fix? Oh no, it's about appearances, not effectiveness..

      • by dryeo ( 100693 )

        They've been attacking privacy ever since they got in. Harpers paranoid and is the most secretive politician ever yet doesn't believe in the privacy of the common person.

      • by JackieBrown ( 987087 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @02:56PM (#49089467)

        We just went through this in my hometown (San Antonio.)

        We passed laws outlawing cell phones because it causes reckless driving. The thing is, we already have laws against reckless driving.
        Do we need a law for eating food in the car while driving or putting make up on?

        • by vux984 ( 928602 )

          We passed laws outlawing cell phones because it causes reckless driving. The thing is, we already have laws against reckless driving.

          I presume they passed a law against driving while using a cell phone, not against cellphones accross the board?

          The thing is, we already have laws against reckless driving.

          Ok. You are right. However, its not that simple.

          First: The standard for "reckless driving" is quite vague and subject to interpretation. The standard for "driving with a cellphone in hand" is much simpler.

          Second: They can enforce "driving with a cellphone" even before it escalates to "reckless driving". They don't have to prove you weren't paying attention. They don't have to WAIT for you to drift

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      That is why I always say "prove it". Let's see results.

  • by Piata ( 927858 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @01:34PM (#49088645)

    It's amazing how one man can so completely destroy a country, both politically and culturally in under a decade. The CRA (the Canadian version of the IRS) is currently doing audits of non-profit organizations and revoking the non-profit status of organizations that have political ideologies that go against the Conservative agenda.

    Dying with Dignity loses charitable status after political activity probe []
    7 Environmental Charities Face Canada Revenue Agency Audits []

    I can't wait for the next election and I sincerely hope the PC's are so savagaley beaten at the polls that they'll be laughed out of town on the oil wagon they rolled in on.

    • Don't be too optimistic, the drums are beating: []

      • by Prune ( 557140 )
        I don't think so, Tim.

        The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey among 1509 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists

        -- []

        Spend some time around the forum in question, and you'll realize it's hardly representative of the general Canadian population.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dryeo ( 100693 )

      Promises of small government and tax breaks will get the votes. This what I hate about "Libertarians", they have little problem with this type of government as they're cutting taxes and shrinking government even though it's the oversight part that's being removed.

    • I dislike Harper as much as most of us, but to be fair it has always been the case that charitable organizations were not supposed to engage in significant amounts of political activities.

      Yes, many of them (of all political stripes) have been doing just that for quite a while, but the law has been on the books for a long time (just not enforced very strictly).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So.. Uh.. Yeah. Its this letter.

    I don't know how to say this, but you should get yourself tested.

    Here in the US we've got a bad case of the conservative stupid and it looks like you've caught it to. If you're lucky you can stave off the stagnating wages, crumbling infrastructure, tyranny of the banking sector, and jingoistic warmongering.

    Love, the USA

    • We'll do the best we can. I can't promise anything. :( The only plus side is that Harper was stupid enough to go after veterans a lot over the last few years. That will rally up the elderly people who ALWAYS vote. Now it's just a matter of getting the majority of Canadians to go "No I don't want this idiot again."
  • by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @01:38PM (#49088679)
    In the US we have a balance of power that few people understand. We have an executive, a legislative, a judicial, and the fourth equal power which is the public and all have a defined limit to their powers. That is an upward limit as well as a downward limit. So the public is restrained by the Constitution just like any other part of the balance of powers. Electronic communications are new and unforeseen in our founders' eyes. Yet there should be no assumption at all that the public must yield some of their share of powers at all simply because something new comes along. In essence if the executive, the legislative, or the judicial system are not wide open to communications then the public has the right to privacy just as much as any branch or even the military or CIA has any right to secured communications. Or the government has the option to make all communications and data acquisition open to all of us without exception. The practical aspects of such a thing should not be a factor in a court ruling. Essentially the constitution is what it is and that could even include it being a mutual suicide pact. If a practical solution type of society was our goal we would be tossing people in the ovens and slaughtering anyone who made ripples in the pond or was to weak to supply all of their own needs. If little Johny shows up at the emergency room with a broken spine we try to do the best we can for little Johny. In a practical society we would simply shoot Johny in the head and toss his body in the city dump or use his corpse to feed the pigs. In other words you really do not want to live in a practical society as you just might be Johny one day.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      If there is a limit to the expansion of coercive authority -- in ANY country -- we have yet to see it.

  • At least they're being honest about it.

  • by unixcorn ( 120825 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @01:45PM (#49088763)

    Who do I need protection from?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There is a small group of people hell bent on bringing down western civilization, and they accomplish their goal by killing a few thousand people a year? Sure, that's terrible, but we kill ourselves with fried chicken and cheeseburgers at a faster rate. The threat of terrorism is minor compared to the threat of government corruption, the threat of poverty on the next generation, and the threat of economic policies that leads to instability and strife.

  • "The RCMP has labelled the “anti-petroleum” movement as a growing and violent threat to Canada’s security, raising fears among environmentalists that they face increased surveillance, and possibly worse, under the Harper government’s new terrorism legislation." []
  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @02:35PM (#49089273)
    I used to think Canadians - even those out in the forsaken, endless prairies - were far more wise and progressive than us USians, but no. How long has GOP-backed and advised Harper been in power now? What happened? Was it tar sand greed? Pure apathy? The assumption they were all as 'funny' as Laughable Bublefuck Rob Ford?

    Quite sad; I thought the Canadians were better than, well, just about everybody, but now no different than the rest of the Right-Wing Police State, Might Makes Right, Western world. [le sigh]
    • by Zeromous ( 668365 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @02:46PM (#49089375) Homepage

      Try living in Canadian "Fuck You I Got Mine" Suburbs. The cognitive dissonance is astounding.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      60% of Canadian for that last few elections have not voted for the Harper government, so that's the majority of the government. Unfortunately with effectively a 3 party system, the NDP and Liberals are sharing the Left part of the spectrum while the Conservatives basically take all the Right spectrum votes all to themselves and with the elections by default because they have no opposition on that part of the spectrum. They get 40% of the vote with the NDP and Liberals, Green, and Independents splitting the

    • by compro01 ( 777531 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @03:20PM (#49089721)

      What happened?

      An idiotic voting system, gerrymandered ridings, Republicans giving the Conservatives dirty tricks lessons, and 39% of the population being idiots.

      • You forgot politics and politicians...

        All the stuff above aside, the basic fact is that the Conservatives united the right (Alliance/Reform, PC), and moved towards center (or at least perceived to by some people). The center left is shared by two other parties that basically just cannibalize each others votes... So baring some crazy thing, it is no surprise that the Conservatives have a distinct advantage and won, simple numbers. The PQ is not a federal party. Their only significant impact recently was loos

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      How long has GOP-backed and advised Harper been in power now? What happened? Was it tar sand greed? ...

      I think you are on to something. Right-wing extremist oil/energy money has been a potent factor in U.S. politics since the 1940s, witness the John Birch Society founded and run by Fred Koch. Its in-your-face craziness led to it being rejected by the Republican mainstream in the early 1960s, and then marginalized, but this very small group had enormous financial resources, and patience and has built up an enormous infrastructure to push their policies over the years, not just at the national level but in sta

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Canadians did not vote for Harper and to not support his policies. We have a backward 1st past the post electoral system that enables vote splits to empower the minority of votes into a dictatorial majority in our Parliament. Harper's conservatives only got 39% of the popular vote. 61% voted for NDP, Liberal, Green and Block, all whom are very far left when compared to American Democrats.,_2011

    • I used to think Canadians - even those out in the forsaken, endless prairies - were far more wise and progressive than us USians, but no. How long has GOP-backed and advised Harper been in power now? What happened? Was it tar sand greed? Pure apathy? The assumption they were all as 'funny' as Laughable Bublefuck Rob Ford?

      Quite sad; I thought the Canadians were better than, well, just about everybody, but now no different than the rest of the Right-Wing Police State, Might Makes Right, Western world. [le sigh]

      It's a combination of three things.

      1) Harper isn't nearly as bad as the US right. There are certainly elements of that in his party, but he would still be a better fit as a Democrat than Republican in the US.

      2) First past the post exaggerates strong minorities into big majorities. He should be PM but he shouldn't have a majority.

      3) Even being a decent PM, he's still too far right for Canadians. The reason he's stuck around is he is good at winning elections, and the Liberal candidates not nearly as much. Th

    • I used to think Canadians - even those out in the forsaken, endless prairies - were far more wise and progressive than us USians, but no. How long has GOP-backed and advised Harper been in power now? What happened? Was it tar sand greed? Pure apathy? The assumption they were all as 'funny' as Laughable Bublefuck Rob Ford?

      Quite sad; I thought the Canadians were better than, well, just about everybody, but now no different than the rest of the Right-Wing Police State, Might Makes Right, Western world. [le sigh]

      Honestly I wouldn't expect anything else from a 5-eyes nation.

  • My favorite commentary on this subject so far has been written by Ralph Nader. Someone else may have already referred to this in the comments; I am far too lazy to search for the reference, and it's a good enough piece of writing to be mentioned more than once. []
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Canadian government has taken advantage of a good "crisis" to extend it's powers. When there's no crisis to take advantage of, government either inflates a minor problem, makes one or claims there is one in order to extend it's power. It's insatiable, and won't stop until those in power have complete control over everything.

    "Everything not compulsory is forbidden."
                        -- T. H. White

  • We already seem to have support from the NDP, but a stronger support wouldn't hurt. If you are Canadian, please sign this: []

Air is water with holes in it.