By now, you’ve probably heard about An Act to enact the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act and to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts, otherwise known at Bill C-30, which was put in front of Parliament by the Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews.
Bill C-30 seeks to, among other things, give the government and law enforcement warrantless powers to invade your privacy. In other words, they’ll be able to ask your ISP for all sorts of personal information about you and your online habits without first obtaining a warrant.
Needless to say, this has made a lot of people very unhappy and resulted in a number of campaigns against it, including the #TellVicEverything hashtag on Twitter.
When questioned about the warrantless access in the House of Commons, the minister basically said that there was nothing about warrantless access in the bill and told people that if they didn’t support the bill they were supporting pedophiles. (Even though the bill makes no reference to pedophiles or pornography.)
And then it appears he actually read the bill he’s endorsing.
It turns out that everyone else (i.e. not Vic Toews) was correct in stating that the bill contained provisions for warrantless powers (see Sections 16 and 17 in the bill, for example).
How he could be so ignorant as to not have known this boggles the mind, particularly as it is alluded to in the Summary found on page 2 of the bill where it says
Part 2 amends the Criminal Code in respect of authorizations to intercept private communications, warrants and orders and adds to that Act new investigative powers in relation to computer crime and the use of new technologies in the commission of crimes. Among other things, it…
(e) permits a peace officer or a public officer, in certain circumstances, to install and make use of a number recorder without a warrant;
(I added the emphasis in that quote.)
The phrase “without a warrant” should be enough to cause any member of Parliament to look into it further, particularly whose occupation in their PARLINFO profile is listed as “Counsel, lawyer”.
The only “reasonable” explanation is that Toews did not actually read the bill that he is sponsoring. I placed the word reasonable in quotes because it is completely unreasonable and irresponsible for someone to not have read a bill they’re sponsoring in Parliament.
Vic Toews should stand up in the House and say “Mr. Speaker, a few days ago I made some statements that I have subsequently realized were completely incorrect and misleading. I would like to withdraw those statements and apologize to the House.” Of course, I doubt that will happen. The bill is being sent to committee prior to a second reading, which is a bit unusual in the lifecycle of a bill but will allow for larger changes to be made to the bill prior to the second reading.
What really should happen is that the bill is withdrawn altogether because it is excessively invasive and will be prone to abuse.