Proposed Canadian Terrorism Bill Called a Privacy Disaster
CBC: CSIS oversight urged by ex-PMs as Conservatives rush Bill C-51 debate
“Protecting human rights and protecting public safety are complementary objectives, but experience has shown that serious human rights abuses can occur in the name of maintaining national security,” the statement says.
“Given the secrecy around national security activities, abuses can go undetected and without remedy.
“This results not only in devastating personal consequences for the individuals, but a profoundly negative impact on Canada’s reputation as a rights-respecting nation.”
The letter is signed by Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, Joe Clark, John Turner and 18 others involved in security matters between 1968 and 2014, including:
- five former Supreme Court justices.
- seven former Liberal solicitors general and ministers of justice.
- three past members of the intelligence review committee.
- two former privacy commissioners.
- a retired RCMP watchdog.
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Dr. Michael Geist (Professor of Law Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law Faculty of Law):
“Total Information Awareness”: The Disastrous Privacy Consequences of Bill C-51
Roach and Forcese dig further into this issue, concluding that the information sharing provisions are excessive and unbalanced. There is much to digest, but the privacy concerns largely come down to three linked issues:
- First, the bill permits information sharing across government for an incredibly wide range of purposes, most of which have nothing to do with terrorism (“It is, quite simply, the broadest concept of security that we have ever seen codified into law in Canada.”).
- Second, the scope of sharing is remarkably broad: 17 government institutions with the prospect of cabinet expansion as well as further disclosure “to any person, for any purpose.”
- Third, the oversight over public sector privacy has long been viewed as inadequate. In fact, calls for Privacy Act reform date back over three decades. The notion that the law is equipped to deal with this massive expansion in sharing personal information is simply not credible.