Canadian 'Digital Privacy' Bill Actually Puts Everyone's Privacy At Risk; Will Be A Boon To Trolls

from the no-anonymity dept

Michael Geist is raising the alarm on a dangerous new bill in Canada, called the “Digital Privacy Act” (Bill S-4), which will actually serve to undermine many people’s privacy. Much of the bill is focused on security breach disclosure rules, something that is important and useful. But, with that are some hidden, and extremely problematic, sections as well.

In light of revelations that telecom companies and Internet companies already disclose subscriber information tens of thousands of times every year without a court order, the immunity provision is enormously problematic. Yet it pales in comparison to the Digital Privacy Act, which would expand the possibility of warrantless disclosure to anyone, not just law enforcement. Bill S-4 proposes that:

“an organization may disclose personal information without the knowledge or consent of the individual… if the disclosure is made to another organization and is reasonable for the purposes of investigating a breach of an agreement or a contravention of the laws of Canada or a province that has been, is being or is about to be committed and it is reasonable to expect that disclosure with the knowledge or consent of the individual would compromise the investigation;

Unpack the legalese and you find that organizations will be permitted to disclose personal information without consent (and without a court order) to any organization that is investigating a contractual breach or possible violation of any law. This applies both past breaches or violations as well as potential future violations. Moreover, the disclosure occurs in secret without the knowledge of the affected person (who therefore cannot challenge the disclosure since they are not aware it is happening).

Of particular concern is how this could be a huge boon for copyright trolls, who can get information from ISPs without a court order, by simply claiming that it’s for the purpose of “investigating a breach of an agreement or a contravention of the laws of Canada.” Similarly, this would put a serious chill on protections for anonymous speech, as claims of defamation or other issues might lead to quick revelations of anonymous commenters, without any role for a Canadian court to balance the interests of free speech and privacy.

It’s difficult to see how a bill that is supposed to be about protecting people’s privacy actually has this clause that will effectively decimate privacy for many individuals. Industry Canada insists that this provision is narrowly targeted, but Geist highlights how the government rejected much narrower constructions, and seems unable to comprehend how disastrous the current bill will be for Canadians’ privacy.

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Comments on “Canadian 'Digital Privacy' Bill Actually Puts Everyone's Privacy At Risk; Will Be A Boon To Trolls”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: one day and the best target is out_of_the_blue ?

Think bigger ffs.

Setup a legit looking, bound to be loads of breaches type site
Phish IP addresses of targets (easy to do via email)
Get details

There is ID theft etc… written all over this. Some sites have everything about a person and all you will need is a “valid lol” reason to get it.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Errr, ummm....

I miss Cathy too, General Emergency. Specifically, I miss flaming her into the damn floor.

Mind you, trolls and shills notwithstanding, the quality of discourse has gone right up in her absence. I continue to marvel at how much I can learn by reading the erudite comments in here, which continue to be made whether there’s a troll to smack with a truth bat or not.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is the point, people are not supposed to have rights under harper’s canada, corporations are the new overlords, you want tax breaks, they go to the rich, you want rights, the rich get them, you want justice you need connections or publicity, you want anything else, the jails are waiting and expanding (as are punitive laws)
You want to work and eat and have shelter, tough luck, your a lazy bum, working 3 jobs is not enough to be considered a human being unless your working a 7 figure position or higher.

Anonymous Coward says:

We are all at the mercy of the lowly IT person at our ISP. The Internet is a joke, a mere whisper of the promise of what it could be if we made surveillance impossible, if we actually had freedom of speech, if we stopped believing in the fairytale about censoring only the speech that we all agree is intolerable. No such agreement is possible, not even close, it is a powerful and pervasive illusion we must shake ourselves from. Just as is the illusion that we have free speech, or that anonymity is impossible anyway, or that the IT person can’t do anything to hurt us, or they won’t, or if they do there will be a trail of evidence against them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

All my ISP can see is a 256 bit encrypted connection going on at all times. The day they prevent me from connecting to a vps that I rent montly (which is good for the economy) is the day i’m gonna be worried, and out in the streets.

Won’t happen, if you’re smart and are willing to pay double in internet related bills monthly, you can be quite the ghost. For a decade now all they see from me is encrypted connections and never was I emailed something about how they didn’t like that.

Everything said about Harper’s governemnt (which actually, the name itself, replaced the Government of Canada on official federal papers) is all true, unfortunately. Fortunately he will end up losing next year even while trying to pass this “Fair Elections Act” which is of course the opposite of what its namesake indicates. So much that there’s so much backlash that they’re pretending to want to listen to opposition parties about it. Maybe appearances are better than outright screwing this democracy we have, which sucks anyway (british parliamentarism sucks, voting should be representative of total % of votes), he’s going to be out next year or in minority again, which will be hilarious to see, he will be even more mad than back then in 2006-2011 where 2 elections still got them stuck to minority gov until the 2011 election frauds of course.

It’s late, i had my sleeping pills, i’m ranting, but I despise the Harperites so much I still am lucid about all this even after my rescue insomnia medication kicked in…temazepam is fun before you pass out. I’m taking advantage of it, Harper does not like fun things. The guy goes to a fundie church who wishes israel to start ww3 so israel gets nuked and all the fundies go meet raptorjesus.

Not joking.

Guardian says:

At everyone

this is against the charter of rights and freedoms PERIOD, expect once again for govt legislation to get taken to court and struck down…they keep trying at diff angles on things only to have it slapped in there faces

and im bringing up my hacker archive with all the files ENCRPYPTED….

and only people i give access to will get keys.


btr1701 (profile) says:


> It’s difficult to see how a bill that is
> supposed to be about protecting people’s
> privacy actually has this clause that will
> effectively decimate privacy for many individuals

It’ll do a lot more than just decimate their privacy. I’d say they’re losing a lot more of it than 10%.

(Maybe the word you’re looking for is ‘annihilate’?) 😉

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Privacy

I’d say they’re losing a lot more of it than 10%.

I know this word is a pet peeve of yours, but maybe it’s time to let it go.

Pretty much all of the major dictionaries have the current definition as “to destroy a large number of” and the 10% one as a historical definition (if at all).

Words do change their meanings as time passes – take a look at “terrific” as an example. It used to mean “to excite fear” and now it means “extremely good”.

summertimeguy says:


You cannot trust anything this government says. Digital Privacy is doublespeak for invasion of privacy. It’s just like the their “Fair elections Act” which actually goes against anything fair, and strips independent oversight, introduces spending loop-holes, adds party appointed workers and some other things too.

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