Bill C-74, the Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act, would force communications providers to build surveillance back-doors into the hardware that routes our phone calls, Internet traffic, and more. At the same time as increasing surveillance capacity, it would allow law enforcement agencies to obtain certain identifying information about internet and phone subscribers (name, address, telephone number, email address, IP address) without a warrant.
Canadians should be concerned because this would increase state surveillance capacity while removing a legal safeguard designed to protect us from unjustified surveillance. See our news release under "CIPPIC News" at the CIPPIC website
The benefits include greater capacity of law enforcement to identify and pursue criminals, while the cons include greater opportunity for law enforcement abuse of their powers (e.g., investigating innocent people).
Will we see a return to the copyright reform bill? If so, will it likely be worse or better then before?
On the copyright front, C-60 came under a great deal of pressure from lobbyists representing big media and foreign interests, particularly on the issue of implementation of Canada's obligations under the 1995 WIPO Treaties. We thought that C-60 did a pretty good job of protecting innovation interests. We hope and expect that the next government will continue to resist these pressures and table new legislation that is similarly protective of Canada's innovation interests.
When the campaign trail begins, clearly there will be more significant issues. How do concerned Canadians make this issue more of a public debate?
The single best way to generate public debate over these important issues is to make your concerns known to the candidates in your riding. Attend public debates and events and ask the tough questions! Our politicians need to know these issues, and we need to know their views on those issues.
Where are the two political parties aligned when it comes to consumer rights and business interests?
Consumer rights has not been a big issue for any of the four national parties in recent times - one need only look so far as the fiasco of the Do Not Call legislation the Liberals sped through Parliament last week. What began as a pretty decent consumer protection bill was watered down liberally after the government finished addressing the concerns of commercial interests. Critics call it the "Do Not (Hesitate to) Call Law".
If we do see the bills return in some form or other, how long would it take to make it's way back into legislation?
No way to know. Could be the first item up for deliberation, could be way down the road. We do know that copyright revision is now a permanent fixture of Ottawa's policy scene. As long as Big Media has money to spend on lobbyists, something will be cooking. Similarly, the government has been consulting on lawful access issues over two administrations. We'll see a new bill soon.
On issues surrounding the internet as a whole, what could we expect to see in the future?
In many ways, 2005 has been a remarkable year for Canadian technology policy. We had copyright bills, a lawful access bill, the appeal in BMG v. Doe, the SPAM Task Force, the Sony DRM rootkit debacle, and other issues besides. 2006, incredibly, promises the same and more. We will
see more copyright, more lawful access, review of Canada's federal privacy laws, likely a government response to the SPAM Task Force, possibly a government response to the phenomenon of spyware, a Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Robertson v. Thomson appeal, and, always skulking in the background, CRIA and the MPAA potentially filing a new round of lawsuits targeting their customers - ordinary Canadians downloading content.
Slyck would like to thank David Fewer and Phillipa Lawson for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions. You can research different Internet issues in Canada on the CIPPIC home page.
As was pointed out, this election could be a bare fist election and experts say that the end outcome may be another minority government
which could mean a slow progress for any new copyright reform bills that could spring up in the future. So how is the CRIA responding? According to their website, it seems that Bill C-60 has been conveniently whisked away as there is no mention that the bill was scrapped. In the mean time, they are keeping up with their drum on saying that they are cracking down
on "illegal downloading" in "five new countries.” Maybe pointing elsewhere will help divert attention from the issue that should have greatly disappointed Graham Henderson
, knowing that his bill has been placed in the wastebasket.