“Lawful” Access Shenanigans!

Vic vic vic [sigh]It’s been my dream to use the word “shenanigans” in a blog post for a long time. I really love the word; it’s got such a nice old-timey feel to it. So what would you call a bunch of ISPs, telecom companies, and industry groups getting together with the government in secret before the introduction of Vic Toews’ old friend, Bill C-30, The Catching Sexual Predators / Internet Spying / “Lawful” Access Bill? You are correct, sir. SHENANIGANS.

So Michael Geist (or more likely his army of students) did some yeoman’s work in filing an Access to Information request. They hit the motherload. Let Mr. Geist explain what they found:

in the months leading up to the introduction Bill C-30, Canada’s telecom companies worked actively with government officials to identify key issues and to develop a secret Industry – Government Collaborative Forum on Lawful Access.

Lovely! So in January 2012, a bunch of industry types and government reps sat down for a meeting. All the big boys were there – Rogers, Bell, Vidéotron. After some coffee and delicious muffins (or so I assume, maybe they were danishes), they sat around and figured out how to fuck over their subscribers at the government’s request. Fun! Just so you know they were serious:

representatives have been granted Government of Canada Secret level security clearance and signed non-disclosure agreements

So we’ve got the country’s oligopolisitic media / telecom companies and the government colluding in secret to try to pass legislation no one in the public wants. Just another day at the office.



Thank you for your previous email outlining your desire for better protection for consumers in the growing digital economy. New Democrats recognize the importance of the digital economy and we are working hard to protect Canadian consumers.

First, please know that we share the concerns of many Canadians who oppose legislation relating to lawful access, ACTA, and digital locks. NDP Digital Issues critic Charmaine Borg and NDP Public Safety critic Jasbir Sandhu are taking the lead on these issues.

Regarding Bill C-30, we believe that this lawful access legislation proposed by the Harper government is deeply flawed. In summary, C-30 includes troubling measures that would:

– violate privacy rights of Canadians;
– give authorities the power to access your personal information without a warrant;
– force every telecom, telephone, Internet, wireless provider to create elaborate spy backdoors that will become a gold mine for hackers;
– provide inadequate oversight to protect Canadians from abuse of warrantless access;
– force TSPs to incur the costs of developing this permanent surveillance infrastructure, costs which will likely be passed on to consumers.

We recognize that police officers should have the necessary tools to go aggressively after child pornographers and other cyber criminals- so they can be punished to the full extent of the law. However, this can be achieved without making offensive comparisons and treating law-abiding Canadians like criminals.

You may also be interested to know that NDP MP Charmaine Borg has been successful at pressing the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, to study measures taken by Google, Facebook and other social media giants to protect the personal information of millions of their Canadian users.

Upon introducing the motion that led to the review, Charmaine stated “It is up to Parliamentarians to be savvy and responsive to the changing realities of privacy protection online. This is the new frontier in managing Big Data and keeping Canadians’ privacy safe from the appetites of market research interests. Parliamentarians must act now.”

Regarding changes to copyright laws, we believe it is important to balance the rights of artists, consumers and rights-holders. Canada needs effective legislation to ensure artists’ royalties are protected; long-distance education opportunities aren’t hindered; and that young people aren’t subject to unfair, expensive fines.

Finally, New Democrats have long been on record with our opposition to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). We believe that there must be a balance between the rights of creators and users, and that this will not be achieved through a process shrouded in secrecy. Unfortunately, the Conservative government signed this treaty late last year after winning their majority government. For our part, MP Charlie Angus has been speaking out against this treaty over the past several years. We have repeatedly called for a broad and transparent consultation process with the public. This issue demands fair treatment and compensation of copyrighted material along with a fundamental right of access to the Internet. Regrettably, the Conservative government did not heed our advice. You can read more about our opposition to ACTA here: http://tinyurl.com/75xo6rd.

Going forward, we will continue to advocate for better protection on behalf of Canadian consumers.

Again, I appreciate hearing from you. Please visit our website at http://www.ndp.ca to learn the latest about our team of New Democrats.

All the best,

Thomas Mulcair, M.P. (Outremont)
Leader of the Official Opposition
New Democratic Party of Canada


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