Archive for January, 2014

Time for a New Plan: With Government’s Wireless Strategy in Tatters, Regulation May Be Only Option

The federal government’s spectrum auction starts today with its wireless strategy in tatters. Late yesterday, Wind Mobile announced that it was withdrawing from the auction, creating a new entrant vacuum that seems likely to leave some of the prime spectrum in major markets such as Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia […]

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January 14, 2014 13 comments News

Is C-13 Needed?: How Canadian Law Already Features Extensive Rules to Combat Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying was in the news last week with Justice Minister Peter MacKay indicating that Bill C-13 could pass by the spring. The reaction to the bill – the government’s lawful access/cyberbullying legislation – has generally included criticism over the inclusion of lawful access provisions from Bill C-30 along with assurances that the cyberbullying provisions are important and worthy of support (though experts in the field doubt whether it will stop online taunting). I discuss the dangers associated with Bill C-13 in this interview on TVO’s The Agenda.

Comments from Conservative MPs unsurprisingly point to the need to protect children from cyberbullying. For example, Conservative MP John Carmichael told the House of Commons:

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January 13, 2014 5 comments News

The Trouble With Bill C-13: Why the “Cyberbullying Bill” is About Much More than Cyberbullying

Earlier this week I appeared on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin to discuss Bill C-13.  While Justice Minister Peter MacKay indicated yesterday that he hopes to pass the legislation this spring, the discussion on the show points to the concerns with the bill including how it creates immunity for voluntary disclosure of personal information without court oversight (thereby increasing the likelihood of such disclosures) and establishes a low threshold for warrants involving metadata, while only marginally addressing the legal framework to combat cyberbullying, which is already well developed. The interview is embedded below.

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January 10, 2014 16 comments News, News Interviews, Tv / Radio

European Report Says Canadian Privacy Law Should Be Re-Examined Due to Surveillance Activities

The European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs has issued a detailed draft report on the U.S. surveillance activities and its implications for European fundamental rights. The report loops Canada into the discussion, noting Canada’s participation in the “five-eyes” consortium and expressing concern about the implications for trust in the Canadian legal system. The report states:

whereas according to the information revealed and to the findings of the inquiry conducted by the LIBE Committee, the national security agencies of New Zealand and Canada have been involved on a large scale in mass surveillance of electronic communications and have actively cooperated with the US under the so called ‘Five eyes’ programme, and may have exchanged with each other personal data of EU citizens transferred from the EU;

whereas Commission Decisions 2013/651 and 2/2002 of 20 December 2012 have declared the adequate level of protection ensured by the New Zealand and the Canadian Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act; whereas the aforementioned revelations also seriously affect trust in the legal systems of these countries as regards the continuity of protection afforded to EU citizens; whereas the Commission has not examined this aspect.

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January 9, 2014 4 comments News

Why CSEC and CSIS Should the Subject of an Independent Investigation

Months of surveillance-related leaks from U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden have fuelled an international debate over privacy, spying, and Internet surveillance. The Canadian-related leaks – including disclosures regarding spying on the Brazilian government and the facilitation of spying at the G8 and G20 meetings hosted in Toronto in 2010 – have certainly inspired some domestic discussion. Ironically, the most important surveillance development did not involve Snowden at all.

My weekly technology column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that late last year, Justice Richard Mosley, a federal court judge, issued a stinging rebuke to Canada’s intelligence agencies (CSEC and CSIS) and the Justice Department, ruling that they misled the court when they applied for warrants to permit the interception of electronic communications. While the government has steadfastly defended its surveillance activities by maintaining that it operates within the law, Justice Mosley, a former official with the Justice Department who was involved with the creation of the Anti-Terrorism Act, found a particularly troubling example where this was not the case.

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January 8, 2014 7 comments Columns