Human rights lawyer warns feds’ internet surveillance bill could lead to massive inte

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  1. Drew Wilson

    Drew Wilson AKA IceCube Staff Member Moderator Contributor

    Human rights lawyer warns feds’ internet surveillance bill could lead to massive internet sweep

    Paul Champ says the government’s new counter-terrorism strategy means protesters and activists could be put under wider surveillance through the provisions of Bill C-30.

    PARLIAMENT HILL—The government’s controversial Bill C-30, which would give police and security agents new surveillance powers over the internet and compel web service providers to assist them, could also lead to a “massive internet sweep” on thousands of political and social activists, warns a leading human rights lawyer.

    The scenario is likely if the proposed Bill C-30, which the government has emphasized as legislation to protect children from internet predators, passes through Parliament and its new powers are used in conjunction with a new government counter-terrorism strategy released less than a week before Public Safety Minister Vic Toews (Provencher, Man.) introduced the internet surveillance bill in the Commons, Ottawa lawyer Paul Champ, a director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Union, told The Hill Times on Wednesday.

    The impact Bill C-30, which has so far received first reading the Commons, could have on internet users as well as their internet service providers took backstage last week in a furor Mr. Toews sparked when he challenged Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac Saint Louis, Que.) to “either stand with us or with the child pornographers.”


    Mr. Champ said he recalled the massive government security build-up for the summit of G20 government leaders in Toronto in 2010, which ended with the detention of more than 1,100 protesters. There were widely-published images of pockets of hooded or masked “Black Bloc” demonstrators smashing store windows and torching police cars, but most of the protesters who were detained were later released without being charged.

    Mr. Champ said Bill C-30 would give sweeping new powers to police and security agencies to monitor legitimate protesters prior to similar events in the future. Environmental activists protesting pipelines or other projects, including the Northern Gateway pipeline and another proposed oil sands pipeline extension into the U.S., could also be subject to broad surveillance.

    “One thing I have been saying for a long time is that we need to be very careful about these extensions of state powers in response to terrorism,” Mr. Champ said. “When I saw that anti-terrorism strategy statement, that was the first thing I thought of, that’s where all this stuff is going to go, it’s going to start applying to all kinds of groups.”

    Mr. Champ said police and security agents could first use the powers of the bill to begin surveillance on particular web sites to start “scooping up” Internet addresses that would lead them to activists they want to monitor.

    “Who is going to define what is legitimate political protest?” he said. “History tells us that people in security intelligence with the government are very poorly equipped to draw that distinction. The second thing is, they are going to do this massive Internet sweep capturing tens of thousands of Canadians who are engaging in legitimate political activity, to determine whether it is legitimate or not.”


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