Thursday, 23 February 2012

Vic Toews Responds

I signed an online petition over at which included sending parliament a message that you are against the proposed Bill C-30. As a result, a (likely automated) response from Vic Toews comes back to you by email. I decided to post this email, with some comments of my own (highlighted in gray):

Thank you for contacting my office regarding Bill C-30, the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act.

I’m with Bob Rae on this one, Why name this bill in such a manner that if you oppose it, you are Pro-Internet Predators?

Canada's laws currently do not adequately protect Canadians from online exploitation and we think there is widespread agreement that this is a problem.

Yes they do. The police didn’t mention any need for this level of access, and are working diligently and successfully under the current set of laws … also note that they were issued 76 warrants. Judges seem not to have trouble issuing warrants to police if they suspect child pornography. So what’s the deal with this bill?

We want to update our laws while striking the right balance between combating crime and protecting privacy.

Let me be very clear: the police will not be able to read emails or view web activity unless they obtain a warrant issued by a judge and we have constructed safeguards to protect the privacy of Canadians, including audits by privacy commissioners.

Oh?!? so why are we so interested in tracking email and web activity? Is it because you found an extra $80 million lying around? which… btw… sounds ridiculously low considering the level of tracking proposed in the bill

What's needed most is an open discussion about how to better protect Canadians from online crime. We will therefore send this legislation directly to Parliamentary Committee for a full examination of the best ways to protect Canadians while respecting their privacy.

For your information, I have included some myths and facts below regarding Bill C-30 in its current state.

Vic Toews
Member of Parliament for Provencher

This is my favourite part, where does this information come from!?
The supposed “facts” sounded so ridiculous and un-sourced that it didn’t take me long to find online someone who had some interesting comments on each of the claims. The following notes were taken directly from Neal Jennings who also blogged about this letter yesterday.

Myth: Lawful Access legislation infringes on the privacy of Canadians.

Fact: Our Government puts a high priority on protecting the privacy of law-abiding Canadians. Current practices of accessing the actual content of communications with a legal authorization will not change.

Neal Jennings – Debunk: Your Government’s priorities are thoroughly irrelevant.  Your bill clearly changes the practices of accessing the actual content of communications with a legal authorisation.  Isn’t that the whole point of the bill? If that isn’t the point – WHY THE HELL ARE YOU PASSING THIS BILL?"

Myth: Having access to basic subscriber information means that authorities can monitor personal communications and activities.

Fact: This has nothing to do with monitoring emails or web browsing. Basic subscriber information would be limited to a customer’s name, address, telephone number, email address, Internet Protocol (IP) address, and the name of the telecommunications service provider. It absolutely does not include the content of emails, phones calls or online activities.

Neal Jennings – Debunk: Authorities already have ability to monitor personal communications and activities, with a warrant… or, if they’re CSIS, they’ve always had the ability to do this for whomever they feel might possibly be a threat to national security (which as we’ve seen through declassified files over the years, includes pretty much anyone and everyone).

Myth: This legislation does not benefit average Canadians and only gives authorities more power.

Fact: As a result of technological innovations, criminals and terrorists have found ways to hide their illegal activities. This legislation will keep Canadians safer by putting police on the same footing as those who seek to harm us.

Neal Jennings – Debunk: The “fact” has nothing to do with the myth supposedly being disproven.  The benefit to average Canadians has to be measured with respect to the costs, too. This will be financially costly to our governments, and is costly to all individual Canadians in the loss of our privacy.  The benefit is not actually proven here by Mr. Toews so I’m not going to do that for him.

Myth: Basic subscriber information is way beyond “phone book information”.

Fact: The basic subscriber information described in the proposed legislation is the modern day equivalent of information that is in the phone book. Individuals frequently freely share this information online and in many cases it is searchable and quite public.

Neal Jennings – Debunk: Your IP Address is not “phone book information.”  Period. Individuals do frequently choose to share this information online — the difference is that this bill requires third parties to provide it to  law enforcement agencies.  Changing disclosure from optional to mandatory is very significant, and makes the sharing of such information different.  If I had a land line, I could choose for it to be unlisted.  This is not a choice given to me or anyone else by this legislation.

Myth: Police and telecommunications service providers will now be required to maintain databases with information collected on Canadians.

Fact: This proposed legislation will not require either police or telecommunications service providers to create databases with information collected on Canadians.

Neal Jennings – Debunk:Um, actually, section 6: “(1) For the purpose of enabling authorized persons to exercise their authority to intercept communications, every telecommunications service provider must have the capability to do the following: (a) provide intercepted communications to authorized persons; and (b) provide authorized persons with the prescribed information that is in the possession or control of the service provider respecting the location of equipment used in the transmission of communications.”  How could they possibly have the capability of providing intercepted communications to authorised persons if they aren’t required to intercept communications?
Further, section16: “(1) On written request by a person designated under subsection (3) that includes prescribed identifying information, every telecommunications service provider must provide the person with identifying information in the service provider’s possession or control respecting the name, address, telephone number and electronic mail address of any subscriber to any of the service provider’s telecommunications services and the Internet protocol address and local service provider identifier that are associated with the subscriber’s service and equipment.”  Again, how could they possibly provide this information without maintaining a database of this?

Myth: “Warrantless access” to customer information will give police and government unregulated access to our personal information.

Fact: Federal legislation already allows telecommunications service providers to voluntarily release basic subscriber information to authorities without a warrant. This Bill acts as a counterbalance by adding a number of checks and balances which do not exist today, and clearly lists which basic subscriber identifiers authorities can access.

Neal Makes reference to section 17, as posted:
17. (1) Any police officer may, orally or in writing, request a telecommunications service provider to provide the officer with the information referred to in subsection 16(1) in the following circumstances:
(a) the officer believes on reasonable grounds that the urgency of the situation is such that the request cannot, with reasonable diligence, be made under that subsection;
(b) the officer believes on reasonable grounds that the information requested is immediately necessary to prevent an unlawful act that would cause serious harm to any person or to property; and
(c) the information directly concerns either the person who would perform the act that is likely to cause the harm or is the victim, or intended victim, of the harm.
The police officer must inform the telecommunications service provider of his or her name, rank, badge number and the agency in which he or she is employed and state that the request is being made in exceptional circumstances and under the authority of this subsection.

Which clearly outlines the “without warrant” policy the bill intends to implement.

I am really concerned over how our government conducts itself: polarizing issues, making up facts, and proposing ridiculous bills that over-police people. This government should focus on investigating it’s own members, not it’s constituents. In fact… I’m certain that If I do a little digging I could find out a series of wrong-doings or questionable acts this current government is guilty of.

I’m in agreement with fellow blogger Neal Jennings, as well, as a computer programmer analyst my concerns over this bill should not be taken lightly.



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