Last month, I wrote about the recent initiative to revive lawful access, the rules that govern police access to Internet and subscriber information. A cybercrime working group has held consultations (I participated in one) as law enforcement seeks new powers for warrantless access to some ISP information (called “pre-cursor” data) and a new, lower threshold warrant for other subscriber data. While law enforcement has argued that the current system is broken, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security has recommended that the current approach remain unchanged.
The committee’s much anticipated report on developing a road map for national security contains dozens of recommendations (my colleague Craig Forcese reviews many of them) including one on lawful access. It states:
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The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security will hold its clause-by-clause review of Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism bill, this morning. The government is expected to introduce several modest amendments that experts note do little to address some of the core concerns with the bill. While there is some tinkering with the information sharing provisions, the law will still allow for widespread sharing without effective oversight from the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Moreover, key concerns with respect to the CSIS Act (warrants that can violate Charter rights) and broader oversight and accountability remains untouched.
None of this comes as a surprise. Earlier in the committee hearings, Green Party leader Elizabeth May lamented that “the hearing process is a sham. They’re not listening to witnesses.” Now that the hearings have concluded, the data bears this out. Witnesses from across the political spectrum called for changes to the information sharing rules, to oversight, to the CSIS powers, and to the advocating or promoting terrorism provision, yet Conservative MPs never bothered to listen.
Few legislative issues are as important as the security and privacy of Canadians, but the entire hearings were structured to avoid hearing from experts, to asking irrelevant questions, or to bringing in witnesses with scant knowledge of the proposed bill. Just how bad was it? The Bill C-51 hearings by the numbers:
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The Public Safety and National Security Committee has released its report on counterfeiting (I appeared before the committee in the spring). The report makes 14 recommendations, most of which unsurprisingly track the recommendations from the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network. These include criminal remedies in the Trademarks Act, inclusion of copyright within […]
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Last month I posted a very critical entry on a Public Safety and National Security Committee hearing on counterfeiting featuring the Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network, and the CRIA. I concluded by stating that "the MPs on the committee were there to be educated about the issue and received one perspective. The danger lies in only receiving a single perspective and then proceeding to deliver a report effectively crafted by the anti-counterfeiting lobby. If the committee is serious about advancing the policy – rather than the view of a select lobby – it will expand the hearings to include further perspectives that extend beyond simple soundbites that 'counterfeiting can kill.'"
To the great credit of the MPs on the committee, someone saw the posting and invited me to appear to discuss my perspective on counterfeiting. I appeared yesterday morning and I thought that the 90 minute session (which also included Paul Hoffert and Bob Sotiriadis) resulted in an engaging discussion. Several committee members acknowledged that I provided a different take on the issue, which enabled the debate to focus on the genuine health and safety risks as well as consideration of the effectiveness of current Canadian law.
The full transcript should be available next week but in the meantime my prepared remarks are posted below.
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