Commissioner Cavoukian: Conservatives’ Lawful Access legislation will diminish our privacy rights

Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian has added her voice to the growing chorus of critics of the federal Conservatives’ promised “lawful access” legislation that will expand state surveillance of the Internet and telecommunications.

Ms. Cavoukian has issued a devastating critique of the imminent legislation– the most comprehensive and authoritative analysis to date.

In a lengthy open letter to the government, she states, “It is misleading to call [the legislation] ‘lawful.’ Let’s call it what it is – a system of expanded surveillance.

“At issue is the anticipated re-introduction of a trio of federal bills that will provide police with much greater ability to access and track information, via the communications technologies we use every day, such as the Internet, smart phones and other mobile devices. I have no doubt that, collectively, the legislation will substantially diminish the privacy rights of Ontarians and Canadians as a whole.”

To read the news release, letter, and media, click here.

Online surveillance law could erode Canadian freedoms, says Canada’s Privacy Commissioner

Privacy Commissioner of Canada Jennifer Stoddart has sent an open letter to Canadian Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews to outline her deep concerns about “lawful access” legislation that is expected soon from the Harper government.

“Lawful access” refers to the legal authority of police and security officials to monitor, intercept, seize, and search our Internet and telecommunications messages.

If the government introduces the same type of lawful access legislation that failed to make it through the House during the last Parliamentary session, it will vastly increase police surveillance of Canadians’ Internet and telecom

The Commissioner’s letter

News coverage and and CBC

Stop Online Spying
Since 2001, privacy watchdog groups, including FIPA, have squared off against
similar legislation introduced unsuccessfully by both Liberal and Conservative

The current campaign against lawful access is called the Stop Online Spying campaign.

“Stop Online Spying” Coalition Calls on Harper to strip online spying powers from omnibus crime bill


A new “Stop Online Spying” coalition of Canadian public interest organizations and academics released a joint letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper today, voicing grave concerns about pending omnibus legislation that would allow for warrantless online spying on Canadians (“Lawful Access” legislation).

The letter calls on the government to, at minimum, give the proposed legislation an appropriate hearing instead of rushing it through Parliament.

“This legislation has never been to committee and MPs haven’t heard a single witness on what the government is proposing,” said Vincent Gogolek, FIPA’s Executive Director. “Given the serious concerns expressed by the Privacy Commissioners, burying these proposals in a catch-all omnibus crime bill is reckless and irresponsible.”

“The government’s own supporters are opposed to online spying without oversight,” added Gogolek. He pointed out that former Conservative Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day — and presumably the Conservative government — were formerly opposed to online spying without warrants”Click Here”.

“Why did the government drop its principled position on this? That’s another reason we need a full debate on these measures.”

News release
Letter to Prime Minister Harper
Stop Online Spying campaign website
Read commentary here or here

Coalition against government surveillance of the internet (“lawful access”) growing by leaps and bounds

More than 30.000 people and organizations have signed an online petition against the federal government’s plan to sneak in internet spy legislation as part of its omnibus crime bill.

FIPA is a member of the STOP ONLINE SPYING campaign and encourages all its members and supporters to sign the petition which is available at

FIPA has been involved in the fight against lawful access bills introduced by Liberal and Conservative governments for more than 10 years. Read our current position and a history of our activities.

Related links

Petition against internet ‘lawful access’ bills

Tories reintroduce ISP intercept bill

Electronic snooping bill a ‘data grab’: privacy advocates

Bill C-50
Bill C-51
Bill C-52