Michael Vonn, Policy Director for the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, writes:
Weighing in at a daunting 139 pages, Bill C-59 – the government’s sweeping new proposals for reforms to national security law – include some welcome changes, but also many serious new problems and threats to rights.
Here’s a quick primer of the biggest threats and disappoints contained in C-59.
1. BILL C-59’S NEW ACCOUNTABILITY ARCHITECTURE IS OFF-SET BY PLUMMETING LEGAL THRESHOLDS FOR MASS SURVEILLANCE.
Just as we feared, the government’s “response” to the CSIS spying scandals of last fall is to make it legal and infinitely easier for national security intelligence to collect and use bulk data. Although C-59 would create welcome forms of accountability through a new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency and an independent Intelligence Commissioner, these bodies will be overseeing and reviewing security intelligence agencies that will be legally empowered to conduct bulk data surveillance on the basis of significantly reduced thresholds. So, instead of reining in mass surveillance, the accountability framework will actually be providing an official seal of approval for mass surveillance.
Okay, that would have been bad enough, but then we get to #4:
4. SECURITY INTELLIGENCE GETS TO COLLECT OUR “PUBLICALLY AVAILABLE” PERSONAL INFORMATION
For the CSE, that includes personal information that has been published or broadcast for public consumption, is accessible to the public on the global information infrastructure (aka: Internet) or can be requested, subscribed to or purchased, leaving wide-open the potential for CSE to target Canadians through data brokers. And for CSIS, a “publically available dataset” is defined as being “publicly available at the time of collection” – a not very comforting definition, arguably wide enough to encompass hacked data that has been publically posted.
Read more on BCCLA, and thanks to the reader who sent this in.