Supreme Court rules Canadians have right to online anonymity; Conservatives mum on changing privacy bills

Canadians have right to online anonymity, Supreme Court rules

Rejecting government fears of a “crime-friendly Internet,” the Supreme Court of Canada said anonymity is vital to personal privacy in the digital era. It told police they need a judge’s permission before asking Internet providers for basic information that would identify their customers – such as a suspected child pornographer at the heart of a 2007 Saskatchewan investigation.

Legal observers called the unanimous ruling a privacy landmark, with implications for everything from child porn investigations to snooping by national security agencies to police powers under the Conservative government’s cyberbullying bill.

David Fraser, a Halifax privacy lawyer, said that “the message to police is ‘Come back with a warrant;’ customers’ names and addresses are not as innocuous as police might think, or want us to believe.” The Conservative government would not say whether it would amend proposed laws that expand the sharing of that kind of private information.
(Read full article at Globe & Mail)

Conservatives mum on changing privacy bills after Supreme Court ruling

After a Supreme Court ruling that Canadians have a right to privacy with IP addresses and other online data, the Conservative government is staying silent on whether it will amend bills that expand the sharing of that kind of private information.

Friday’s court ruling comes as the Conservative government pushes ahead with Bill C-13 and Bill S-4, each of which has privacy implications and is under fire from academics, lawyers and privacy watchdogs.

Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, Daniel Therrien, called the decision a “seminal” ruling and urged MPs to “carefully consider the implications” in consideration of C-13 and S-4.

Among many criticized provisions, C-13 offers immunity to private companies – such as major telecommunications companies – that hand over subscriber information or other data voluntarily to police. The telecom industry got 1.2-million such requests from government agencies in 2011. S-4, meanwhile, overhauls the rules for voluntary data sharing between private companies, and critics have warned it will lead to more sharing of private information without judicial oversight.

In Question Period on Friday, shortly after the release of the decision, the government was under fire from the opposition.

“Police must have a mandate. This new defeat [from the court] underscores the fact that all too often [the government’s] approach is unconstitutional. Will the Conservatives amend bills on electronic monitoring in order to comply with the Supreme Court decision?” NDP House Leader Peter Julian said.

Conservative MP Bob Dechert, who is the parliamentary secretary to Justice Minister Peter MacKay, sidestepped the question.

(read the full article at Globe & Mail)

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