Concerned about online spying? Join the call for sober second thought

Write a letter to the editor about C-13Online Spying Bill C-13 has already passed the House of Commons and will soon face a final vote in the Senate. But the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that large parts of C-13 are unconstitutional. If passed, the Bill will face legal challenges and waste millions of taxpayer dollars. The Senate claims to be the place where new laws can receive “sober second thought” – and if ever a bill needed a sober rethink, it’s this one.

Opposition to Bill C-13 is huge and growing; it’s faced criticism from across the board, including from the government’s own supporters. We need to let the government and the Senators know just what we think of this resurrection of Vic Toews’ aborted Bill C-30, so our partners at have launched a simple Letter to the Editor tool to help you get your thoughts on Bill C-13 published in your local newspaper.

Read more of what FIPA has to say about this draconian bill here and here.

Don’t delay: let Canada’s senators know you expect a critical review of this bill.

Work with us to shape a pro-privacy action plan that addresses government’s stark privacy deficit

Privacy Plan

FIPA has teamed up with OpenMedia and other members of the Protect Our Privacy Coalition to launch a pro-privacy crowdsourcing initiative.

This week the highly controversial online spying Bill C-13 passed the House of Commons, despite concerns that the Supreme Court of Canada Spencer ruling likely makes the legislation unconstitutional. This also follows a year of worrying revelations about the activities of Canada’s spy agency CSEC.

We’ve seen in the past that the best way to combat these overzealous and draconian surveillance efforts is to develop our own solutions that address privacy concerns. C-13 is hugely unpopular, and has received criticism from a range of political standpoints. This crowdsourcing effort will give you the opportunity to have your say as well.

The crowdsourcing tool will allow users to give input on their top privacy concerns, and the policies they would like to see developed. This input will then be analyzed and used to create a set of key recommendations for policy-makers in the new year.

Groups supporting the launch of the tool include: Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, Free Dominion, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, and the Privacy and Access Council of Canada. You can take part by using the crowdsourcing tool at

Huge win for privacy in Supreme Court, federal justification for online spying unconstitutional

Provincial private sector privacy laws will also be affected

The Supreme Court of Canada has blown away the underpinnings of the federal government’s online spying legislation, but the effects will be much wider.In a decision handed down last week, the Court found that contrary to the statements by a number of government officials and lawyers, the collection of IP address information and other metadata is a search, there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in the information being collected and that a warrant is required in order to allow Internet Service Providers to give that information to the authorities.This means the government’s proposed amendments to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) Bill S-4, and the cyberbullying/online spying bill (C-13) are unconstitutional and will have to be rewritten.

The government and security services have justified their current and future mass surveillance by misinterpreting the meaning and importance of ‘metadata,’ despite several privacy experts and Commissioners pointing out that this type of data can reveal detailed personal information about Canadians including their medical history, political leanings, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and financial state. The Supreme Court has now shown the critics were right.

Provincial privacy laws have similar provisions allowing for collection of personal information without consent, and those provisions are now of questionable constitutionality as well.

In a letter sent before the Supreme Court ruling, BC Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham highlighted concerns about the provincial law having similar problems to the federal legislation:

“The proposal in Bill S-4 has been the focus of some concern and sheds light on privacy issues in relation to the analogous provision in PIPA. Given the extent that personal information is available to some organizations in today’s digital world, there may be unintended consequences in providing authorization for personal information-sharing between organizations under such broad conditions.”

BC and Alberta both have their laws under review, and it is now imperative that these powers be scaled back.

FIPA has been active in this fight going back to the original lawful access proposals brought out at the turn of the century. Click on the links below for some of what we have been saying recently about this and other important privacy issues.

CBC clip

Joint op ed with BCCLA in Times Colonist

Huge Coalition unites to demand end to Spy Agency Cash Grab

FIPA is joining over 50 major organizations and tens of thousands of Canadians today in a new campaign to tell the federal government to stop wasting billions on Canada’s hugely expensive online spying apparatus. The campaign is part of a worldwide day of action against online spying called the Day We Fight Back, and is being launched on federal Budget Day. It is expected that MPs will be asked to approve the rapidly growing annual budget for Canadian spy agency CSEC (Communications Security Establishment Canada).

CSEC is expected to cost taxpayers over $460 million this year, well above earlier forecasts of $420 million. CSEC’s inflation-adjusted annual budget has more than doubled over the past decade. Taxpayers are also on the hook for over $4 billion to build and operate a new CSEC headquarters, described as “the most expensive government building ever built” and as a “spy palace”.

The groups speaking out are members of the Protect Our Privacy Coalition, which is working for effective legal measures to safeguard Canadians’ privacy from government spies. The coalition includes over 45 organizations from across the political spectrum, along with over a dozen leading academics, privacy experts, and tens of thousands of Canadians. Coalition members are launching a new tool ( to make it easy for Canadians to tell their MP to take a stand against CSEC’s online spying and wasteful spending

The larger global campaign includes prominent web platforms such as Reddit and Mozilla. More information about the international campaign can be found at

CSEC has recently been the subject of a series of stunning revelations highlighting how it is systematically collecting the private data of thousands of law-abiding Canadians. The government and security services are trying to hide the mass surveillance of their own people by misinterpreting the meaning and importance of ‘metadata’. However several privacy experts and Commissioners have pointed out that this type of data can reveal detailed personal information about Canadians including their medical history, political leanings, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and financial state.

If we can’t rein in this Cold War-era spying, let’s at least bring the laws they operate under into the 21st century.

Over 27,000 Canadians have pledged their support to a campaign aimed at stopping all illegal spying on Canadians, with more signing on every day at Join with us today and call on your MP to oppose this waste of our tax dollars on CSEC spying.