NEWS/ POLITICS — A bill aimed at combatting “the dark side of the Internet” won’t compromise the reasonable privacy of information on people’s computers, says Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod.
Citing the cases of Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd — teenagers who committed suicide after being cyberbullied — the MP spoke in Parliament on Monday about Bill C-13, a 75-page collection of amendments aimed at tackling cyberbullying and other computer crimes that was introduced late last year.
Critics say the bill would enable bulk collection of private information of law-abiding citizens and simply creates new surveillance powers under the guise of protecting children.
They contend the bill should be split between cyberbullying and other online-spying provisions.
McLeod said provisions in the bill for data preservation aren’t the same as data retention.
McLeod said data retention used in some European countries allows the collection of data from all phone and Internet service subscribers for a defined period of time regardless of whether it’s for an investigation.
Data preservation on the other hand, would require that specified computer data connected to an investigation and specific people be preserved for a limited time.
“It is important to understand that this data would not be turned over to the police unless they first obtained a judicial warrant or court order for that disclosure,” she said.
“Also, any of the data that was preserved and whose presentation was not otherwise required for regular business purposes would have to be destroyed as soon as it was no longer needed for the investigation. This would protect the privacy of Canadians.”
She called the data preservation scheme “quite constrained in its focus” and designed as “a stop-gap measure” so judicial warrants and court orders aren’t rendered useless.
Chicoutimi NDP MP Danny Morin said the Conservatives’ bill simply criminalizes cyberbullying instead of preventing it but McLeod said, “The bill would create a law to address the behaviour that can occur in cases of cyberbullying. This new offence would be called non-consensual distribution of intimate images. Investigative powers need to be updated to ensure that they are in line with the modern technology.”
McLeod said ensuring privacy protection while fighting computer crimes “is a difficult balancing act, because we need to ensure that privacy is protected while providing the tools to tackle these horrendous issues.”
She said the bill would also heighten privacy protection for the most invasive uses of tracking technology by creating a dual threshold for tracking warrants. To track someone using the person’s cellphone, police would have to get a special warrant.
“Canadians have understandably been outraged by the crimes committed through the use of the Internet, including massive fraud and horribly cruel incidents of cyberbullying,” said McLeod.
“I believe that Bill C-13 is both a necessary and balanced response.”