Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Government Heard Me

I wrote a couple of letters to my MP, Mark Strahl over the past few of weeks, one of which went like this...
I believe it's very important to not hobble the internet to protect copyright. Like the streets of a city, the internet is simply a thing that conducts traffic without prejudice.
Though some parts of a city might be rife with crime or social harms and some individuals or groups eminently worthy of arrest, nonetheless we do not--in a free society--curtail freedom of movement.
Please protect the rights of the individual in respect to the internet. Please protect freedom of movement, presumption of innocence, common carriage, and due process.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
In a second letter I expressed my concern about the plan to make the circumvention of digital locks illegal.  
I received this today from Vic Toews' office...
Thank you for contacting my office regarding Bill C-30, the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act.
Canada's laws currently do not adequately protect Canadians from online exploitation and we think there is widespread agreement that this is a problem. 

We want to update our laws while striking the right balance between combating crime and protecting privacy. 

Let me be very clear: the police will not be able to read emails or view web activity unless they obtain a warrant issued by a judge and we have constructed safeguards to protect the privacy of Canadians, including audits by privacy commissioners.

What's needed most is an open discussion about how to better protect Canadians from online crime. We will therefore send this legislation directly to Parliamentary Committee for a full examination of the best ways to protect Canadians while respecting their privacy.

For your information, I have included some myths and facts below regarding Bill C-30 in its current state.


Vic Toews
Member of Parliament for Provencher

Myth: Lawful Access legislation infringes on the privacy of Canadians.
Fact: Our Government puts a high priority on protecting the privacy of law-abiding Canadians. Current practices of accessing the actual content of communications with a legal authorization will not change. 

Myth: Having access to basic subscriber information means that authorities can monitor personal communications and activities.
Fact: This has nothing to do with monitoring emails or web browsing.  Basic subscriber information would be limited to a customer’s name, address, telephone number, email address, Internet Protocol (IP) address, and the name of the telecommunications service provider. It absolutely does not include the content of emails, phones calls or online activities.

Myth: This legislation does not benefit average Canadians and only gives authorities more power.
Fact:  As a result of technological innovations, criminals and terrorists have found ways to hide their illegal activities. This legislation will keep Canadians safer by putting police on the same footing as those who seek to harm us.

Myth: Basic subscriber information is way beyond “phone book information”.
Fact: The basic subscriber information described in the proposed legislation is the modern day equivalent of information that is in the phone book. Individuals frequently freely share this information online and in many cases it is searchable and quite public.

Myth: Police and telecommunications service providers will now be required to maintain databases with information collected on Canadians.
Fact: This proposed legislation will not require either police or telecommunications service providers to create databases with information collected on Canadians.

Myth: “Warrantless access” to customer information will give police and government unregulated access to our personal information.
Fact: Federal legislation already allows telecommunications service providers to voluntarily release basic subscriber information to authorities without a warrant. This Bill acts as a counterbalance by adding a number of checks and balances which do not exist today, and clearly lists which basic subscriber identifiers authorities can access.
I received this today from Christian Paradis... 
Dear Mr. [F. Moderate]
I am pleased to respond as Minister of Industry, as well as on behalf of the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage.  Mr. Mark Strahl, your Member of Parliament, forwarded to me a copy of your email regarding the Copyright Modernization Act.

Recognizing the critical role a modern copyright regime plays in Canada’s digital economy, the Government of Canada is delivering on its commitment to introduce and seek swift passage of copyright legislation that balances the needs of creators and users.

On September 29, 2011, the government introduced Bill C-11, the Copyright Modernization Act.  This legislation reproduces the provisions of Bill C-32, which appeared in the last session of Parliament.  It will promote Canada’s innovation and creativity, and ensure that our copyright laws are modern, flexible and in line with current international standards.  It proposes a fair, balanced and common sense approach that respects both the rights of creators and the interests of consumers in today’s market.  Through this bill, the federal government seeks to promote Canada’s participation in the digital economy, a major element in ensuring the continued prosperity and competitiveness of our country.

Detailed information about the Copyright Modernization Act is available online at

Thank you for sharing your views on this important matter.

Yours sincerely,
The Honourable Christian Paradis, P.C., M.P.
Though I disagree with Mr. Toews quite considerably, and I find a few of his Myth->Fact items to be misleading at best, I do have a renewed sense that our government can be responsive to our needs, and I respect that some people in government took the time to read what I wrote and bothered to respond.

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