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CAUT Bulletin Archives

November 2013

CAUT joins coalition to defend privacy rights

CAUT has joined a broad-based pro-privacy coalition calling for effective legal measures to protect Canadians from warrantless government spying.

“Canada used to be seen as ahead of the game by protecting privacy and human rights in an era of digital information processing,” said David Lyon, who holds a Queen’s University research chair in surveillance studies. “Today we risk not only our reputation but real damage done to innocent people due to needless surveillance and the careless handling of personal information. This timely coalition shows that a wide spectrum of Canadians believes it is time for concerted action to spur a change of direction.”

The Protect Our Privacy Coalition launched amid concerns Ottawa would reintroduce controversial lawful access legislation in the new parliamentary session. Known as the warrantless wiretapping bill, Bill C-30 died on the order paper ear­lier this year, yet new Justice Minister Peter MacKay was reported saying that he won’t be “intimidated or deterred” from revisiting its provisions.

Since then, coalition members and the BC Civil Lib­erties Association have challenged the constitutionality of broad and unchecked electronic surveillance by Communications Security Establishment Canada.

“Canada is not a nation of secret laws,” said Caily DiPuma, counsel for the BCCLA. “It is fundamental to the proper operation of our demo­cracy that Canadians be able to access and understand the laws that impact their rights and freedoms. It is simply not enough for the government to ask Canadians to ‘trust’ their spy agencies. We are not a society of blind faith — we are a society of accountability, transparency, and free and open debate.”

Individuals can show support for the coalition by adding their names to the “Protect our Privacy” statement.