Surveillance and privacy have been making headlines recently and it’s as if this will only continue for some time to come. The CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) has applauded the surveillance legislation (Bill C-30) currently under consideration in government and has even offered to edit the legislation to make the surveillance on Canadian citizens more palatable.
Last week, we reported on the recently released memo’s and briefing notes that got Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews to use the Magnotta case to sell the current version of Canadian surveillance legislation.
When we discussed the alleged connection between the Magnotta case and Lawful Access (another name for the surveillance legislation), we simply found that one could hardly make a connection between the crime committed and the legislation being pushed.
Now, the Canadian spy chief has offered to tweak the Canadian surveillance legislation while applauding the bill as “vital”. The Chronicle Herald reports:
Canada’s spy chief backs the Conservative government’s troubled bid to bolster Internet surveillance powers, and has offered to help tweak the legislation to make it more palatable to a wary public.
In a letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Dick Fadden says the spy agency was “extremely pleased” to see the bill come before Parliament, considering it “vital” to protecting national security.
CSIS was drafting “potential options” to strengthen accountability measures in the bill, says the late February letter, sent to the embattled minister following a wave of opposition to the legislation from civil libertarians and Internet privacy advocates.
The Canadian Press obtained a declassified version of the top secret letter this week under the Access to Information Act.
The federal legislation would allow police, intelligence and competition bureau officers access to Internet subscriber information — including name, address, telephone number, email address and Internet Protocol address — without a warrant. An IP address is the numeric label assigned to a computer on the Internet.
Now, I’m not personally sure what’s worse: supporters trying to tweak an unwanted law to quell outrage or the fact that Canadian spies are the ones writing the surveillance legislation? Either way, this really casts a negative light on the surveillance legislation in the first place.
What’s worse, and I’m sure I’ve said this numerous times already in the past, is that if such surveillance legislation is passed, what’s to stop people from looking at the laws, then simply opting to encrypt their communications regardless of whether or not they are doing anything wrong. When the government announces to their citizens that they’ll be watching them, people will react in ways to protect themselves – needed or otherwise. Wouldn’t that make the process of online spying that much harder? Personally, I don’t like where this could all be headed next.