Bill C-59 was supposed to fix the myriad problems created by its predecessor, the infamous Bill C-51, now Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015. Not so say civil society leaders Micheal Vonn and Tim McSorely:
“Canadians were told that the new law would fix the old law. Instead, we got a bill that nominally addresses some concerns, but exploits the opportunity to introduce more radical new powers for national security agencies.”
That is why a broad array of civil liberties and human rights organizations including the Rideau Institute have signed a statement outlining the most troubling aspects of Bill C-59 under three headings:
- New legal thresholds effectively legalize mass surveillance;
- The practical impossibility of an individual effectively challenging their inclusion on the “no-fly list” continues; and
- Canada’s “NSA”, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is authorized to conduct cyberattacks.
Legalized mass surveillance:
“Bill C-59 … expressly empowers mass surveillance through the collection of bulk data and suspiciously non-defined “publically available” data. The terrible irony is that this means instead of reining in mass surveillance, the new oversight bodies will be giving an official seal of approval to mass surveillance.” – Civil Society letter
No Fly List
The no-fly list has never been shown to increase aviation safety. Yet, Bill C-59 perpetuates a scheme that severely limits the legal right of “due process” based on a mere suspicion of “dangerousness” that cannot be effectively challenged in a fair and open process. Instead, the only recourse is a deeply unfair, secret court process, where information favourable to the listed individual may actually be withheld by government lawyers.
“We are seeing our “intelligence” agencies transformed in dangerous directions. C-59 continues to allow CSIS active “disruption” powers and now also gives Canada’s signals intelligence agency (CSE) new powers to use cyber-attacks against foreign individuals, states, organizations or terrorist groups. This would include hacking, deploying malware, and “disinformation campaigns”. – Civil Society Statement
State-sponsored hacking carries enormous risks of unleashing malware that can wreak havoc far beyond the intended target. There is a also the fundamental conflict of interest when the agency mandated to protect our cyber infrastructure is “powerfully incentivised” to “hide and hoard” security vulnerabilities to use in its own cyberattacks.
“We need a public discussion about what threats these attack powers are meant to address and what new threats they may open us up to if a Canadian attack results in cyberwar escalation.” – Civil Society Statement
Click here for the full text of the Civil Society Statement on Bill C-59.
Photo credit: Sarah Davies