No ordinary Thursday for Canadian Internet

Geist-48X68.jpgPosted by Michael Geist
My weekly technology law column notes that last Thursday (June 18) began as an ordinary, rainy, spring day in Ottawa. Canadian politicians, having just avoided an unwanted election, were only two days away from an extended summer break. Yet by the end of the day, a trio of events unfolded that could help shape the Internet in Canada for years to come.
The first event took place mid-morning, with the introduction of new lawful access legislation. The bills would dramatically change the Internet in Canada, requiring Internet service providers to install new surveillance capabilities, force them to disclose subscriber information such as name, address, and email address without a court order, as well as grant police broad new powers to obtain Internet transmission data.
The introduction of the legislation by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan — accompanied by more than a dozen law enforcement representatives - generated an immediate wave of criticism. ISPs expressed concern about the cost of the program, while privacy groups lamented the government’s about-face on the issue of court oversight since Stockwell Day, the previous Public Safety Minister, had pledged not to introduce mandated disclosure of subscriber information without it.
Given the experience with misuse of surveillance powers in other countries, the bill will likely continue to attract attention as Canadians ask whether the government has struck the right balance between providing law enforcement with the necessary investigative powers, ensuring robust oversight, and preserving online privacy.
Hours later, the scene shifted to Question Period, where Liberal Industry critic Marc Garneau surprised Internet watchers by emphasizing the importance of an open Internet and declaring that the Liberal party now firmly supports net neutrality. Click here to read more of Michael's post.

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