A Conservative world order
In case Vic Toews’ Internet thought police come to roust me out of bed in the middle of the night to grill me on why I posted yet another picture of my dog on Facebook or on my predilection for trying to up the bids on Auctionnet, much of this column comes from the CBC’s Terry Milewski.
So, get him instead. What’s that you say? When they came for me there was no one left to stand up for me.
If you get a chance, read Milewski’s analysis of the Conservative government’s online surveillance bill. It’s very well done.
Toews, the public safety minister, has gained a considerable amount of notoriety for suggesting that Canadians are either with the government or the child pornographers on this issue. And now Toews is getting some threats, likely from child pornographers who don’t like being lumped in with the terrorist enemies of Canada who are opposing the Northern Gateway pipeline.
As the politics of division plays out in Ottawa, Canadians should really take a look deeper down into the guts of the Internet surveillance bill because, unlike what usually happens in the nation’s capital, it affects every Canadian who has a computer or smartphone and has an online presence.
“To date, much of the commentary has focused on one aspect of this change: the fact that information identifying Internet users must be disclosed to the government, upon demand and without a warrant, by Internet service providers, or ISPs,” writes Milewski. “Those facts include your name, address, phone number, e-mail address and IP address – the latter being the unique code identifying your computer so that a webpage you click on is sent to you, not someone else.”
Currently disclosing that information is voluntary or, if police are hot on the trail of one of Toews’ child pornographers, a warrant is needed. If the bill passes, your Internet service provider will be required to provide your information without a warrant or reason.
And it gets better.
“Among other things, the bill requires ISPs to install surveillance technology and software to enable monitoring of phone and Internet traffic. Section 34 is there to make sure ISPs comply. So what, exactly, does it say? Essentially, it says that government agents may enter an ISP when they wish, without a warrant, and demand to see absolutely everything – including all data anywhere on the network – and to copy it all.
“First, Section 33 tells us that, ‘The Minister may designate persons or classes of persons as inspectors for the purposes of the administration and enforcement of this Act.’”
In other words, it’s not the police that will have the power to root around your Internet usage, it’ll be someone from government and, oh yes, they’ll be here to help. And in case you think the references to George Orwell and 1984 are too far-fetched for today’s enlightened society:
“The inspectors may ‘enter any place owned by, or under the control of, any telecommunications service provider in which the inspector has reasonable grounds to believe there is any document, information, transmission apparatus, telecommunications facility or any other thing to which this Act applies.’”
And it still gets better (more frightening, actually). The inspector, who may, or not be a Conservative party henchman, can then copy “any information in the form of a printout, or other intelligible output, and remove the printout, or other output, for examination or copying.”
The coup de grace, of course, is that the inquisitors … er, inspectors, can even use your computer to e-mail that damning NDP membership form on your computer to Master Control.
This from the folks who were positively giddy last week for striking down the long gun registry which was “an invasion of privacy and made criminals out of law-abiding Canadians,” and from the folks who turfed the long form census because it was an invasion of privacy.
And, this just in … the word ‘hypocrisy’ has just been removed from all Canadian dictionaries.