I’m writing you because I’m confused. I don’t understand why the government feels the need to enact the legislation originally contained in the failed Lawful Access bill (C‑30), which has been recycled into the far more persuasively nicknamed Cyberbullying bill (C‑13). In particular, I’m referring to Section 487.0195, paragraphs one and two. The current law requires that police be enforcing the criminal code or a federal law when they ask an individual or organization for voluntarily provide information about someone. It simply makes sense that police use their powers only for police duty, yet bill C‑13 removes this restriction. I’m sure the vast majority of police are good people and wouldn’t think of abusing their powers in this way, but I find it alarming that the government is seeking to make this abuse perfectly acceptable under the law.
Further, organizations which would inappropriately give information to police or anyone else, are of course open to civil or criminal action. I appreciate a legal tool available to me should someone use information about me in a way that I have not agreed to. Yet bill C‑13 provides immunity to anyone providing data to the police. Granted this immunity only applies to information that wouldn’t be illegal for the individual or organization to provide, but why is this at all necessary? If the police have a legitimate need for the requested information, a court can compel an organization to provide it under the current laws, and if the organization is complying with a court order, they have no need for immunity.
In other words, the government is pursuing a situation in which any police officer can ask for anyone’s phone or Internet records for any reason, and if the phone company or Internet service provider voluntary hands it over, they are immune from any criminal or civil liability for furnishing the information.
Let me give you an experience from my past that makes this possibility particularly alarming. Many years ago, I was close friends with a woman who separated from her husband. He was a police officer. When he learned of our close friendship, he decided to meet with me. To my surprise, he simply showed up at my workplace in his police cruiser one day, waiting for me to as I left. He wanted to talk about the situation, and make no mistake, his appearing armed, in uniform, and in the police cruiser was no accident. How did he find out where I worked? If I wanted to find out where he worked, I wouldn’t be able to do so in the same detail though any legitimate means. I’m forced to assume he used the resources to which he had access, for completely inappropriate reasons.
Under this new legislation, there is no end to the information about me that he could have simply asked for. He might not get all of it, but there would be no reason he couldn’t ask any organization he could think of. Those that provide information would have no responsibility or consequence for providing it. The results of potential abuse are mind-boggling.
I simply do not understand why the government of Canada would go out of its way to take away protections that I now enjoy. I fully support law enforcement being able to pursue criminals, but there must be a balance in the powers they are able to exercise. The current laws provide oversight and threatens consequences to both law enforcement and organizations that safeguard our private information.
Why is the government determined to upset the current balance and leave every Canadian voter unacceptably vulnerable? Given the circumstances and the legislation, I’m not sure who you’re representing, but it’s not your constituents.