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Canada’s Bill C-13 is a Trojan Horse

Nov 22, 20134 mins
IT Leadership

The legislation is Bill C-13 or as it is as better known, “Protecting Canadians From Online Crime Act” (.pdf)

Now, if you will recall there was a similar bill that Vic Toews tried to jam through Parliament in 2012 which was Bill C-30, more commonly referred to as the “”Protecting Children From Internet Predators Act”. C-30 was rife with nasty surprises as the Federal government attempted to sneak through a plethora of surveillance items that would have basically given them unfettered access to our Internet traffic, email et cetera without the need for warrants. 

After a massive backlash the government shelved the Act and we returned to the status quo. The government had said that anyone who opposed Bill C-30 was siding with the child predators. This was bullying at its finest. They tried to pull a fast one on the people of Canada. Thankfully, it failed.

The irony is not lost on me that the government has regurgitated components of Bill C-30 and rebranded it as a means to counter “cyber bullying”.

Pot, meet kettle.  

From The Globe and Mail

The proposed law, introduced Wednesday to crack down on Internet bullying involving the posting of nude photos, has come under harsh criticism over its omnibus-style approach. It also features new police tools for fighting terrorism, organized crime, fraud, theft of cable and Internet services, and hate propaganda.

Tools, yes, lets go with that thought for a minute. Here is a summary from Bill C-13 as it stands today.

(a) a new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images as well

as complementary amendments to authorize the removal of such images from

the Internet and the recovery of expenses incurred to obtain the removal of

such images, the forfeiture of property used in the commission of the

offence, a recognizance order to be issued to prevent the distribution of such

images and the restriction of the use of a computer or the Internet by a

convicted offender;


(b) the power to make preservation demands and orders to compel the

preservation of electronic evidence;


(c) new production orders to compel the production of data relating to the

transmission of communications and the location of transactions, individuals

or things;


(d) a warrant that will extend the current investigative power for data

associated with telephones to transmission data relating to all means of



(e) warrants that will enable the tracking of transactions, individuals and

things and that are subject to legal thresholds appropriate to the interests at

stake; and


(f) a streamlined process of obtaining warrants and orders related to an

authorization to intercept private communications by ensuring that those

warrants and orders can be issued by a judge who issues the authorization

and by specifying that all documents relating to a request for a related

warrant or order are automatically subject to the same rules respecting

confidentiality as the request for authorization

So, in descending order we have a provision for cyber bullying (image takedown), power to compel evidence, collecting communication and location data, ability to monitor all forms of communication, tracking of subjects and my favorite, the ability to hide the existence of a warrant from disclosure at all. All the while lowering the bar for the police to conduct surveillance against a target. Why does that part sound familiar? Oh right, the US has National Security Letters that acted in much the same manner.

From The Globe and Mail:

Under current law, a wiretapping authorization will only be issued by a judge if police can show a “reasonable ground to believe that an offence has been or will be committed.” But under Bill C-13, wireless wiretaps can be authorized on the looser standard of “reasonable ground to suspect.”

Strip away the cyber bullying component and what do you have? The government is doing its best to try and hide some nasty provisions inside this bill. They have slapped a new coat of paint on Bill C-30. The hopes being that the emotion generated by the very real problem of cyber bullying is going to carry the day.

Peter MacKay is doing Canada a grave disservice and he thinks we’re all dumb enough to blindly follow him along. 

Sorry Minister, don’t try to bully Canada. We’re not buying this particular horse. 

(Image used under CC from randomcuriosity)


Dave Lewis has over two decades of industry experience. He has extensive experience in IT security operations and management. Currently, Dave is a Global Security Advocate for Akamai Technologies. He is the founder of the security site Liquidmatrix Security Digest and co-host of the Liquidmatrix podcast.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Dave Lewis and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications, Inc., its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.

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