It is now almost a pattern: every time we, as a human right organization or activist, write to government agencies inquiring about cases of Canadians detained abroad or of Canadians subject to abuse or possible discrimination, the governmental response will certainly contain somehow the issue of "privacy."
It's been one year. Saturday marked exactly 365 days since the former Conservative government introduced Bill C-51, with its controversial spy powers that experts warn are shredding our basic constitutional rights. So, where do things stand now? After intense debate, C-51 was pushed through Parliament and is now law, but its many opponents are making progress. Over the past few weeks, we have seen positive signs from the new federal government, as it has finally promised to meet calls for public consultation from Canadians, civil society and experts.
Under privacy by design, technology companies must account for human values when creating their systems and ensure they have engineered for maximum individual privacy in every step of their process. It's a costly and time-consuming measure, but it's one of the only measures standing in the way of a digital Wild West.
One of the most troubling, but largely ignored effects of the TPP involves privacy. Privacy is not an issue most associate with a trade agreement, however, the TPP features several anti-privacy measures that would restrict the ability of governments to establish safeguards over sensitive information such as financial and health data as well as information hosted by social media services.
Under the FATCA rules, financial institutions are obligated to provide the IRS with information about accounts and holdings of U.S. citizens. Basically, the IRS is trying to make sure you are not hiding money overseas though Canada is hardly a tax haven. But there is more to this overreaching legislation that just tracking down deadbeat U.S. citizens.
I'm a big believer in some personal autonomy. I don't feel I owe it to my husband to share every one of my deepest and darkest secrets. And I don't push him to tell me everything on his mind either. God no, I don't want to know everything on his mind. I'm a gal who enjoys a bit of mystery and his over-sharing would be a buzz kill. But there is a difference between "thought" and "action". It's fine to fantasize -- no harm is done.
Free expression is democracy. Without it, political choice is a farce. You can have all the elections you want and they will mean nothing without the secure right to express, share information and advocate for your views. Canada's federal government has been no friend of the right to know since Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to power.
Large media conglomerates are piling on the pressure to ban these privacy protection services for any domains used for "commercial purposes". They're trying to make it even easier to access people's private contact information, so that they can sue domain owners who they accuse of copyright infringements.
Many Canadians are asking whether anything can be done to rein in the almost unimaginable surveillance powers revealed by Edward Snowden. From our research and consultation with privacy experts, there are a number of practical steps that can be taken to put a stop to surveillance abuses and better protect the privacy of Canadians.
Privacy commissioners regulate laws, they don't go on privacy witch hunts to make companies' lives difficult. There are lots of economic opportunities to do bad things, but society is at a shift where many people want to see the respectful thing done, and Facebook is not choosing the respectful thing here.
This is how Conservative MP Laurie Hawn responded to the now 140 plus businesses who have raised concerns in a letter published by the National Post about reckless spying Bill C-51: "[They] should seriously reconsider their business model and their lack of commitment to the values that bind us as Canadians."
In the space of a few short months since Bill C-51 was announced, hundreds of thousands of people have taken action to stop it: signing petitions, writing letters to local newspapers, phoning and writing to their member of Parliament, and hitting the streets in nationwide demonstrations in over 70 communities across Canada.