Internet surveillance Bill killed - A win for democracy in Canada

by Mia Omara

Canadians seem to have dodged a bullet on the issue of individual privacy, and internet surveillance. In February of 2013 the government tabled Bill C-30 that would have provided sweeping new powers to police and the intelligence community to access the internet records of citizens without a warrant. The bill was eventually scrapped due to privacy concerns and general unpopularity, however only now are details emerging at just how invasive this bill could have been. It is always significant to keep conversation going on unpopular bills, to encourage public discourse should a similar bill emerge years later. In a May 22nd 2013, interview for the CBC, assistant privacy commissioner Chantal Bernier spoke about why a disconnect exists between the governments comparison of the information collected to that of what one might read in a phone book. In general, the findings [of the privacy commission study] lead to the conclusion that, unlike simple phone book information, the elements examined can be used to develop very detailed portraits of individuals providing insight into one's activities, tastes, leanings and lives. The government had originally marketed the bill under the guise of helping some of our most vulnerable population, Bill C-30 had taken on another name as well: Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act. Who could argue with a bill that says it is designed for protecting children? During a February debate in the House of Commons, current Public Safety Minister Vic Toews responded to Liberal criticism of the bill by demanding his support, lest he side with child exploiters. He can either stand with us or stand with the child pornographers, said Toews. This kind of polarizing logical fallacy is reminiscent of George W Bushs famous address to congress on September 20th, 2001. You are either with us, or you are with the terrorists. These tactics, which lack a middle ground are dangerous because they attempt to quash dissent and critic, in turn quashing dissent of opinion and damaging the democratic process as a whole. No one is able to illustrate this point more clearly than George Orwell in his essay Pacifism and the War. "If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, he that is not with me is against me. Canadians must continue to listen to the wording of proposed government bills, and not be afraid to question them despite who they say they want to protect. The rejection of the web surveillance Bill C-30 proves that Canadians will not be tricked by logical fallacies and will continue to question everything, which is a win for democracy and critical thinking nationwide.

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