Bill C-13 or the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, was tabled by Minister of Justice Peter MacKay. As of October 1st, it passed on a vote at its report stage despite the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling on internet privacy laws this summer.
In summary the Bill, creates a new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images without the owner’s consent. It provides for the authorization to have these images removed, the forfeiture of property used in commission of the offence, and the restriction of the use of a computer or the Internet by a convicted offender. It creates the power to make preservation demands and orders to compel the preservation of electronic evidence. It allows for the granting of a warrant that will extend the current investigative power for data associated with telephones to transmission data relating to all means of telecommunications. It also allows for the grant of warrants that will enable the tracking of transactions, individuals and things related to the legal interests at stake. The Bill also prescribes a streamlined process of obtaining warrants and orders to intercept private communications.
In June of this year, the Supreme Court of Canada in R v. Spencer recognized enhanced privacy rights online and ruled that warrants are generally required when seeking subscriber information from telecoms. The decision goes against the enhanced powers that are found in Bill C-13. The Globe and Mail reports that,
Mr. MacKay insisted the bill “does not create warrantless access” to information, saying it’s an “incorrect, factually wrong statement” to say otherwise. However, the bill plainly opens the door to police getting information without a warrant – through the immunity provisions that apply broadly, not just to telecoms, which received 1.2 million data requests from law enforcement agencies in 2011.
With the Bill going ahead, there are critics wondering as to whether or not the Bill should be allowed to move forward due to the constitutional issues now at play. The Globe and Mail reports,
“We know the Supreme Court has already quashed one of the clauses … because it provided access to data without a warrant,” NDP MP Charmaine Borg said in the House, questioning Mr. MacKay. “… His bill allows people to have warrantless access to data with no judicial verification. Is he prepared to say that [the bill] is constitutional? Because the Supreme Court has already said that it is not.” Mr. MacKay said the question was a “false dichotomy”.
One suggestion, provided in a Macleans report in June of this year, states that, “privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien and the Canadian Bar Association have recommended that the cyber-bullying bill be split in two, with one bill covering cyber-bullying and another focusing on lawful-access provisions”.
The full text of Bill C-13 can be found here.