Where were opponents of Internet “spying” bill when Liberals tabled it?

- March 6th, 2012

What a difference six years makes when it comes to proposed Internet surveillance legislation in Canada. In 2005, then-Liberal federal public safety minister Anne McLellan introduced an Internet surveillance bill in Parliament that would allow police agencies, without a warrant, to obtain basic subscriber information from Internet service proviers during the course of a criminal investigation.

There were a few small stories about the bill at the time, including some concern about Internet privacy and “big brother” overseeing our Internet use. But that was it. There was no massive public backlash against the bill, nor was there vilification of McLellan for introducing the proposed legislation.

mclellan

Anne McLellan

 

Six years later, Conservative Public Safety Minister Vic Toews introduces a very similar  bill — in fact, it’s based on McLellan’s bill but with some changes to it — and all hell breaks loose. Suddenly, Toews and the Harper government want to read Canadians emails and track their web use. Yet, the basics of the bill are the same as the one McLellan introduced in 2005 — access to basic subscriber information and a requirement for ISPs to install new surveillance equipment to help police catch criminals online.

Here is the story Sun Media ran in 2005:

 

  Nov. 15, 2005, Ottawa — Legislation to be introduced today would ensure Canadian police and spies could easily intercept e-mail messages and listen in on phone calls.

    The Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act will propose changes law enforcement officials say they need to bolster the fight against terrorism and other crimes.

    The bill, more than three years in the making, is also likely to reignite concerns about undue state surveillance and possible fee increases to pay for the measures.

    It appears the long-anticipated bill, to be tabled by Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan, will not get very far before a general election expected within the next few months clears the legislative decks.

    The legislation would force communication service providers — including traditional telephone companies, wireless firms and Internet providers — to phase out technical barriers to police and security agencies seeking access to messages or conversations.

    Under the federal plan, service providers would be required, when upgrading their systems, to build in the capabilities needed by authorities to easily tap communications.

    The surveillance initiative represents the latest effort by security officials to prevent terrorists and other criminals from using modern communication devices to shield their dealings from law enforcement agencies.

 

Why wasn’t this bill an election issue? Following the tabling of the bill, an election was held and the Conservatives won a minority government. But where were all the opponents of this “Internet spying” bill at the time? How come McLellan wasn’t being raked over the coals? Why didn’t anybody try to dig up personal information about McLellan — like they’ve done with Toews — to protest her “invasion” of Internet privacy?

 

Here is the press release from McLellan’s office that went out in 2005 after she tabled the bill:

 

Ottawa, November 15, 2005 – Today in the House of Commons, the Honourable Anne McLellan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, introduced legislation on the lawful interception of communications.

 

The Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act (MITA) will ensure that the law enforcement community and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) maintain their ability to investigate crime and terrorism in the face of rapidly evolving communications technology.

 



”Currently, under the law, police and CSIS can only intercept communications with authorization. This Act will not change that,” said the Deputy Prime Minister. “However, that authorization may be of no effect if companies do not have the technical ability to intercept new communications technology.

 

This legislation will ensure that criminals can no longer take advantage of new technologies to hide their illegal activities from the law.

 

The proposed legislation will reduce the ability of criminals, organized crime members and child pornographers to use sophisticated technologies to carry out their activities undetected. Under MITA, telephone and Internet service providers will be required to include an interception capability in new technology. Court authorizations will continue to be obtained for interception, as they are today. This legislation will not change this requirement in any way.

MITA will also make subscriber contact information from telecommunications service providers available on request to designated law enforcement and CSIS officials.

 

Under the legislation, these officials will be able to request individuals’ basic contact information such as their name, address, telephone or cell phone number or IP address. The release of this information will be subject to rigorous privacy safeguards which will include requiring that all requests for this information are recorded for audit and review purposes.

 

 

“We consulted extensively to ensure this legislation strikes the right balance between the needs of police to maintain their investigative capabilities and the business considerations of the industry, while respecting Canadians’ privacy, rights and freedoms,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.



 

This legislation is the result of a comprehensive legal review. In 2002, the Government consulted publicly and heard from more than 300 individuals and organizations. In 2005, a second round of consultations was held with stakeholders from the telecommunications industry, police community, privacy advocates and commissioners, and civil liberty groups.

 

 

See the part in there about the subscriber information that police could get without a warrant? And the surveillance technology ISPs would have to install? It’s virtually the same bill that Toews tabled.

Interesting, isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

Categories: Politics

Subscribe to the post

29 comments

  1. Ghostlytri0 says:

    It is truly surprising when the citizens of this country can be so readily buffalo’d. We are in an age where once again our children, know more about technology than we do and we cringe in fear behind monitors and gizmos.
    Remember Johnny Carson and his VCR blinking 12:00am?
    Anyone who believes that we are not already tracked out the wazzoo by these big internet companies, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Target, etc is just lying to themselves.
    Everytime you sign up on a site as a guest you have to provide basic information, Name, address including zip or postal code. And poof…… you are free to graze in whatever areas that company provides. Each click a preference, each click a track, that these companies can use and sell as a model to another company under “generic marketing”. You provided it, they have it and they’re going to make money on it. Period.
    We pay taxes to cut crime, but we then shoot the people attempting to implement the tools to provide crime and hug the dang criminals because they didn’t know what they were doing. What in thunder are we doing?
    So what if the police have access to this information at an upper level search? Everyone else pretty much already has it. Why would you want to hog tie the agencies that would attempt to get our taxes down by reducing the availability of crime?
    They are not forbidding the sites, nor access to them, they are not telling you NOT to do what you are doing. But if you are a pervert in a bush playing with yourself, you need help and need to be stopped. Why not catch them behind an internet bush?

  2. Ghostlytri0 says:

    Also, when it comes to politicians, everyone wants a good idea to be theirs. So if one party attempts to do the right thing with someone else’s idea they get all bent out of shape. Instead of being happy it’s finally being implemented, they sabotage it because they themselves couldn’t get credit for it.
    Sad when doing the right thing means doing it only when you can get credit for it.

  3. Richard Cameron says:

    In 7 years much has changed. Canadians use the internet WAY more than it was used back in 2005. 2005 was before the age of Facebook, for just one example. People watch their TV online, do their banking, etc. It’s a totally different ball-game now. The web is also a much more interconnected place, so what shows up on one or two sites spreads across the internet in no time, just like Mr. Toews’ legislation did.

  4. tehcat says:

    @Ghostlytri0 so uh, are you gonna start screaming at all the kids to get away from your “internet bushes” and off your internet lawn?
    The difference between corporations collecting data is that we know it and we willingly allow it. The government is not giving us the option to opt out. Basically saying we are all criminals. The wording of the law is also somewhat troubling.
    Also Tom, as Richard said the internet is a very different place now. 7 years ago might as well have been 500 years ago the way things move today.

    Personally after all this Bill C-11, C-30, i’ll never vote conservative again. As a libertarian that leaves me with very few choices.

  5. Kashmir Kong says:

    If social networking was as prevalent then as it is today, there would be an equal amount of outrage. People don’t want government screwing with the internet, regardless of which party is doing it.

  6. tom.brodbeck says:

    So let’s drill down on this a bit. Clearly in 2005, people were very active on the Internet. Obviously Internet use is growing in leaps and bounds every year.
    But in 2005, millions of Canadians were using email extensively, they were banking online, they were starting to use Facebook and they were browsing websites. We’re not talking 1995. We’re talking about 2005.
    Even if Internet use was half of what it is today, the concerns raised by some regarding Bill C-30 — that police would be able to read our e-mails, track our web use and monitor our online banking — would have been just as valid in 2005 as today.
    Despite that, there was no massive public backlash when the Liberals introduced the bill. Why not?

  7. bgpopcorn says:

    As a retired police officer I shake my head in disbelief that people are willing to let corporations and hackers get at their more personal information but don’t want the police and “big brother” to have the most basic of information. If anyone searches around the internet at all I guarantee you someone at some point will put “cookies” into you computer to find out your likes and dislikes. And that’s okay??? We are talking about a law with which only basic information can be obtained without warrant. And not just any officer can obtain the information. You can bet there would be a chain of command to allow only “authorized persons”, such as specific supervisors, to obtain this information upon request of an officer. This is the way it is done for unlisted phone numbers, and the requesting officer has to explain why he needs it. Police officers, unlike hackers and corporations, are sworn to uphold the law.
    Yes, things have changed since 2005. The internet is a busier place, and so too is the amount of criminal activity on it. Criminals have become more sophisticated and this is why police need citizens to step up and support them to stop the abusers.
    I just wish the special interest groups would look at facts and do the right thing for our safety, instead of always looking to make the next big issue.

  8. Aaron Jones says:

    Plain and simple Tom, politics. When the Conservatives do something it is automatically perceived by the left and centre left, and media as being bad, evil in fact. The ultimate irony is the fact that the Liberals criticized the Conservatives over this bill as well, especially Justin Trudeau. Also, let’s keep in mind the left from what I’ve seen is doing a much better job of utilizing social media, thus the perceived large uproar. When in fact most people could likely not care, the mass majority of people against this bill, for something other than partisan reasons, are conspiracy loons, criminals, and thousands and thousands of people stealing movies, music, and ebooks online.

  9. J Anderson says:

    Perhaps there is more backlash now for 2 reasons:

    1) The tories are introducing the bill, so naturally the liberals/NDP will be against it, regardless of what it is. Its called politics.
    2) 2005 was a time when people were still scared about safety non stop in the post 9/11 world. Nowadays people are a bit more relaxed…and they will be more opposed to this type of legislation than they would have before.

    Regardless, the bill is a disgusting piece of legislation that should never be introduced within a free society, I dont care what they are trying to accomplish by it…its wrong in a free society…

  10. J Anderson says:

    @bgpopcorn

    Sorry but this is unnacceptable.
    No we don’t “let” hackers get our information. That is a crime, its tough to catch them, but if caught they would be charged with a crime.
    Whats basic information to you? Basic to me means name, address, gender. the government already has that info. If they think someone is a criminal, get a warrant for that extra info they want. thats the issue. If they can waltz in and demand info from internet service providers thats wrong.

    Just because you do something in the name of safety doesnt mean its the right thing to do….

  11. tom.brodbeck says:

    J Anderson,

    Actually, you’re misinformed on this one. And I don’t blame you. There has been so much misinformation reported about this bill it’s hard for average citizens to separate fact from fiction.

    What the bill says is that Internet service providers would have to give police during the course of a criminal investigation basic subscriber information like name, address, email, IP address. That’s it. If they want more than that — email content, browser history, etc — police have to get a warrant, just like a wire tap.

    If police used the basic subscriber info to hack into someone’s computer, and did not have a warrant, that too would be a criminal code offence — just like any other hacker — and the cop would be charged.

  12. Kashmir Kong says:

    I disagree Tom, it’s much more than that.

    Bill C-30 would allow law enforcement to obtain names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, local service provider numbers and IP addresses without any judicial supervision or oversight. This information could be easily linked to other personal information associated with one’s online and cell phone activities and used to create a digital profile that reveals who, when and how often you’ve communicated with, your anonymous online identities and your physical location, as in the case of cell phones.

    The key term here is “no judicial oversight”. When it comes to phones, law enforcement requires a warrant, which they have to prove they have good reason to need one, to obtain a fraction of the information compared to what they’ll be able to get from the internet with a simple written request. If you look online, the lack of judicial oversight was the same concern people had in 2005 as they do now.

    As far as your comment here is concerned;

    “But in 2005, millions of Canadians were using email extensively, they were banking online, they were starting to use Facebook and they were browsing websites. We’re not talking 1995. We’re talking about 2005.
    Even if Internet use was half of what it is today, the concerns raised by some regarding Bill C-30 — that police would be able to read our e-mails, track our web use and monitor our online banking — would have been just as valid in 2005 as today.
    Despite that, there was no massive public backlash when the Liberals introduced the bill. Why not?”

    In 2005 Facebook was a niche site for college students. In fact social networking as a whole was limited to niche forums. The general public hadn’t really discovered social networking. I know personally when I learned about C-74 I did a lot of complaining about it among my friends and none at all online.

    I see you’re trying to imply that people are only outraged because they’re just looking for an excuse to bash the Cons, but it’s simply not true. With Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and other social networks in existence today and embraced by the general public it’s incredibly easy and efficient to share information in ways people could not in 2005. Trying spreading information with a chain email and see how far it gets. Not far I assure you.

  13. tom.brodbeck says:

    Kong,

    Have you even read the bill? You’re spreading false information. Any type of cell phone tracking, which you raise, would require a warrant. Any type of tracking of web use, reading of emails etc, would require a warrant. Please, at least do a little homework before you comment.

    To me, one of the key debates is whether police should require a warrant to obtain basic subscriber info. Right now, police already obtain that info in 95% of cases. The debate now is what do we codify? I don’t have an answer to that yet. It’s not black and white.

    But let’s at least try to stick with the facts and the real debate.

  14. kiwdul nodrog says:

    Tom your C.R.A.P. roots are really showing. That was then, this is now, we live in a different world, evidenced on how the social networks worked with the Arab Spring. Your shorts are in to much of a knot and not enough blood is getting to your brain for logical thought.

  15. Rod Rouge says:

    Tom, I realize that the bill does not itself allow for automatic tracking of website usage. I put forward a notion that the tracking part has already been completed, and the name of the account holder is the only missing piece of the puzzle required to fill in the remaining blank. This is due to the way servers run, and collect information, whereby the ip address (and browser, platform, etc.) is automatically logged by the server and contained in the records database. That information, being inherently “anonymous” until the final link is made under the proposed bill’s ip to name mechanism trigger, can be tracked in advance of any warrant. So then the “spying” part is already completed, and all that remains is to link the history to a name of an account holder. Where in a telephone tap case the warrant is issued, then the tracing begins, in the case of the Internet usage, the tracing has already been completed, and they simply require a name to complete the puzzle. This is my understanding of the process, and I have not seen it posted as such often enough.

  16. Glenn Wood says:

    Giving cops the IP address without a warrant doesn’t sound that smart, if they would need to get a warrant to do anything with the IP address. To me this looks like another long gun registry that tax payers need to pay for and does nothing to the online crime.

    I think Benjamin Franklin got it right and his quote still applies to modern world.

  17. Scott says:

    Tom,
    I rarely disagree with you, but you’re dead wrong on supporting this bill. Let me ask you this, was the bill passed by the Liberals? No. It lost traction when the Liberals were voted out. It went away. This time the bill will not go away. The Conservatives have a majority and will ram this unwanted piece of crap down our throats. Perhaps if, in 2005, more people were aware of the bill (because less people were using the internet) and it actually had a chance at passing, there would have been the outrage you are looking for. Tom, you have disappointment me by supporting government spying. You have let your support for the Conservatives cloud your judgment. Yes, even Steven Harper can do wrong.

  18. tom.brodbeck says:

    Scott,

    Actually there was plenty of media attention around the bill in 2005, but there was no public backlash — certainly not the kind of over-the-top reaction we’re seeing today. You don’t find it contradictory that the Liberals tabled virtually the same bill in 2005 and are now opposed to it, likening it to a gross invasion of Canadians’ privacy?

    Also, I never said I supported this bill in its current form. I think accusing me of supporting “government spying” is a bit of a stretch.

    What I do know is police agencies require new tools to keep up with people who commit crimes online. What tools they should get is a matter of debate. Right now they want the names and addresses of people associated with an IP address without a warrant so they can then obtain a warrant to view emails and track the web use of the suspect during the course of a criminal investigation.

    I’m still not convinced why the police agency shouldn’t have to get a warrant before getting the names and addresses of someone’s IP. They will have to do a better job of convincing the public what legal impediments are associated with getting a warrant to obtain information about an unknown person.

    In any event, it would remain illegal under the bill for any police agency to read anyone’s email or track their web use without a warrant. So no, they can’t just legally “spy” on anyone they want. That’s the part of this story that has been grossly exaggerated. If a police investigator uses information obtained through this bill to view a person’s email or to track their web use without a warrant, they would be breaking the law, the same way they would if they abused their positions of authority in any other way.

    In 95% of cases already, ISPs already give police names and addresses of IPs without a warrant. is that right? I’m not so sure about that. Obviously codifying it further is more serious.

    I suspect there will be amendments to this bill at committee. It has been tabled several times since 2005, each time with some tweaking.

  19. DGRose says:

    We’re getting a backlash now because it’s the Conservatives in power and they are, of course, evil in the eyes of sore losers who view the PMO as a brass ring to be obtained and held at all costs. If McLellan’s bill had made it farther down the pike to an actual debate in Commons, it’s possible there would have been a public outcry but now we’ll never know. I agree with your assessment that it is curious nobody seemed to care much back then but now we see people going so far as to side with a hacker organization looking to demonize the politician who introduced the bill to the HOC.

    This issue, for a lot of people, simply boils down a hatred of the Conservatives and anything conservative in nature. Get a grip, take a few deep breaths, and talk like a person. The amendment needs some tweaking and I’m not oblivious to concerns about the state and the police going too far in their zeal to catch criminals, but I’d rather hear rational debate from policy makers and experts than mindless insults and Orwellian doomsaying from the usual suspects.

  20. Scott says:

    Slippery slope Tom.

    There may have been plenty of media attention in 2005… fine… but, if, back in the 1930s, government legislation said the police can pull you over and completely look through your car without any warning or probable cause, there would not have been that much of an outcry because there were way less cars. If that happened today, you, Tom, would be the first one complaining about such an affront to personal privacy in your own car. Your argument is about the equivalent of the horse and buggy age. The Police should not get any of our personal information from our personal computers without the appropriate checks and balances, in this case = third party judicial oversight. Any information that identifies you is – by the federal government’s own standards and definitions – is personal information – and cannot be freely given out. You’re saying you don’t necessarily support the Bill, as it stands, but you’re blatant support of the Conservatives means that you are, perhaps blindly, supporting this Bill. If we allow this, what’s next?

  21. Scott says:

    P.S. even if “95% of cases already, ISPs already give police names and addresses of IPs without a warrant”, that does not make it right. Perhaps the killing of this bill will give the ISPs the balls to tell the police to get a warrant.

  22. tom.brodbeck says:

    That’s actually part of the argument. Is it right that police right now can get basic subscriber information from ISPs without any oversight or reporting mechanisms? I’d say not. We need legislation to govern this area so that when subscriber information is sought during criminal investigations there are reporting mechanisms and oversight. Right now, there’s nothing. Most ISPs just hand the information over to police without a warrant and without any oversight whatsoever. There’s no accountability at all.
    So the status quo doesn’t work, either.

  23. Ryan says:

    Do you seriously not realize how technically literate the world has become in the last 6 or 7 years? How much the internet has become the lifeblood for millions more people? In 2005 I was still in school and could care less about politics, now we have a whole generation of tech literate people who don’t want their digital freedoms infringed on like is happening elsewhere in the world.

  24. Ronnie bugera says:

    The reason why the liberal bill was not opposed much was that it didn’t have a snowballs chance in to-days heat outside.
    the reason now is we have now elected people, who we thought like democracy, now turning our country into a police state. Mr. Toews is a perfect example of (do I say not as I do) mentality.

    people are dieing overseas, to get freedoms like we have. While most of us lard asses sit around with our finger up our nose, oblivious to the anarchy this bill will cause at some future Date.

    It’s a nip it in the bud time or pay later time. The piper will be paid if this bill is passed as it was tabled by unschooled Justice Minister

  25. tom.brodbeck says:

    Ryan,

    While you were in school 6 or 7 years ago and “didn’t care about politics”, the rest of us were banking online, putting our investments online, surfing the web every day, using the Internet for both work and personal use, and replacing snail-mail and telephone calls with e-mail. Millions of us in Canada were using the Internet extensively in 2005. Despite that, no outcry when the Liberals tabled virtually the same bill. Interesting.
    Does it really matter if 10 million or 25 million Canadians use the Internet when it comes to preserving privacy rights online?

  26. ronnie says:

    It doesn’t matter Mr. Brodbeck that the Liberals tabled the same bill. It didn’t have the chance of making it through parliament. get your train off the Gimli railway track to now where land. . It goes nowhere. this bill seriously turns this into a police state.Officials can go in and look into your private affairs with no repercussions and no liabality. get your head out of the sand. Maybe you prefer to be in Syria where Comment such as yours and mine would never reach this point in a conversationwithout one or both of us dying. Hitler idology is now alive and rampant in to-days ottawa. Only it’s under the guise of protecting people. Funny that’s what most dictators say and have said

  27. tom.brodbeck says:

    OK, Ronnie. Let’s have a debate.

    1- What “private affairs” do you think this bill allows “officials” to view?

    2- Which “officials” do you think are allowed to view your “private affairs” under this bill?

    3- Under this bill, what rules do law enforcement officials have to abide by when requesting basic subscriber information from ISPs and how does that differ from the status quo?

    4- You mention “police state.” What is your definition of a police state and how would this bill turn Canada into a “police state?”

    5- Have you read the bill? Be honest. Have you actually pulled up the bill on your computer and read it?

    This should be fun (if you’re up for a real debate, that is).

    And please, anyone, feel free to jump in and answer these 5 questions.

    Tom

  28. Dwayne Chenier says:

    Tom, I can’t explain with 100% certainty why there is greater scrutiny this time around regarding this bill, however it is irrelevant who is actually attempting to pass it. Strenghtening the police state at the expense of the publics personal privacy is never a good thing and our country is walking a slippery slope in it’s attempts to pass this legislation. Did the conservatives object to this bill when the liberals introduced it in 2005? If so, why have they changed their mind just 7 years later. Has the problem of online predators increased to such an extent that they felt the urge to introduce the legislation to tackle it? Is there data to back up this increase?

    The problem that I have with this is that in my 36 years of life it appears as though the government continues to increase it’s control over the public at a pace that is just slow enough not to cause a public backlash. It’s very reminiscent of the frog in the pot of boiling water. At what point do people stop and question the motives of the government? What role does the public think the government is supposed to play in our lives? I personally feel as though they overstepped their role a long time ago, and the amount of taxes we pay reflects that. I for one do not want to live in a surveillance soceity. As a society we would achieve greater prosperity when we are granted the freedoms that are already our inherent rights, and history proves this. If the governement is not striving to create an environment that allows for greater freedoms then we as a nation are taking steps backwards.

  29. tom.brodbeck says:

    Dwayne,

    You’re not going to find anyone more opposed to government intervention than I. But even I have to relax my libertarian views from time to time and acknowledge that law enforcement requires certain powers to conduct criminal investigations.
    The key is to find the right balance between preserving our rights as citizens and allowing law enforcement to catch criminals.

    The reality is, the status quo regarding criminal investigations for online crimes must be changed. Right now, police go to ISPs and request basic subscriber information without a warrant and in 95% of the cases they get it.
    There are no reporting mechanisms or records kept to review these requests.
    If police want to read people’s emails or track their web use, they must get a warrant.

    Under the bill before us, police would still need a warrant to read your emails or track your web use, just like tapping your phone. What the bill changes is ISPs would be required by law to provide law enforcement with basic subscriber information and it would add rigorous reporting and review mechanisms that would track those requests.

    The debate is whether law enforcement should require a warrant to get the subscriber information — information they’re getting now on a voluntary basis without a warrant and with no reporting mechanisms.

    Tom

Leave a comment

 characters available