Friday, 6 May 2011

Are the 'Speechies' Right, er, Correct?

Mark Fournier of Free Dominion is conducting on-line seminars on Bill C-51: Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act.

Today's instalment (bold in original; one typo fixed): Canadian government plans to outlaw internet anonymity.
Yesterday we examined how the Canadian government is planning to effectively outlaw internet linking by making Canadians permanently legally responsible for the content of any webpage they link to using the Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act. Today we will look at how the same Act will outlaw internet anonymity.

Clause 11: The existing provisions of the Code regarding the offences of sending a message in a false name and sending false information, indecent remarks or “harassing” messages (the French term “harassants” currently used in subsection 372(3) of the Code is replaced by “harcelants” in the bill) refer to certain communication technologies used to commit those offences, such as telegram, radio and telephone. Clause 11 of the bill amends those offences by removing the references to those specific communication technologies and, for some of those offences, substituting a reference to any means of telecommunication. As a result, it will be possible to lay charges in respect of those offences regardless of the transmission method or technology used.

This is an exact duplicate of the process that brought thought crimes legislation, Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, to the internet and enabled the Canadian Human Rights Commission to engage in acts that were finally ruled to be unconstitutional by the very Canadian Human Rights Tribunals that rubber stamped convictions in 100% of the cases brought before it. Only this time it is to be expanded upon and enshrined in the Criminal Code of Canada. If this Bill is passed the Canadian government can throw out the reviled Section 13 of the CHRA, they won't need it anymore because they will have something even worse to use against us.

Look very carefully at the wording of Clause 11 above. The key word is “and” which follows the words in bold text (text not bold in original document). It would be bad enough if the new law proposed making it an additional offense to use a false name (an internet alias) “while” “sending false information, indecent remarks or “harassing” messages”, like using a firearm in the commission of a robbery, but this wording makes “sending a message using a false name” a stand alone crime. Think long and hard about the implications and dangers of this part of this proposed bill.

Where are internet aliases most commonly used by Canadians today? They are almost universally used in internet forums, bloggers' comments sections, and comment sections of other websites. This law will make using an alias a crime. It is not likely they will try to prosecute everyone using an alias online but it will give the government the means to identify and criminalize anyone who writes anything the government disapproves of. Imagine an internet where Canadians were forbidden by law to speak anonymously.

Think it would never happen in Canada? Never forget what happened with the CHRC and never give those who enabled that disaster the means to do it again.

Yesterday, Fournier pointed out the dangers of linking contained in the same bill. He quotes Clause 5.
Clause 5 of the bill provides that the offences of public incitement of hatred and wilful promotion of hatred may be committed by any means of communication and include making hate material available, by creating a hyperlink that directs web surfers to a website where hate material is posted...

And goes on to explain.
Hyperlinks are at the very core of the internet, they are what enables every internet user to view any available page on the internet and direct others to view pages. This bill will put the control of all hyperlinks into the hands of government bureaucrats and put all Canadian internet users in legal jeopardy.

This clause essentially makes any Canadian posting a link on the internet legally responsible for the content of any web page linked to even though the person posting the link has no control over the content of that page. If the person who does control the page you've linked to changes the pages content you are still legally responsible because you posted a link.

This will make it unsafe for any Canadian to post a link to any page on the internet that he does not control.

This bill will also make it impossible for any Canadian to operate a forum or a blog that allows for public comments. Even if a blogger vets every posted link on his blog with a bevy of lawyers at his side he still will be held legally liable if the content of the outside web pages changes. The only way to safely operate a blog will be to disallow links to other sites and pages.

Beyond the dangers of this bill as it is supposed to function lies the massive potential for abuse by government agents and private individuals. A person who dislikes you for political, competitive or personal reasons could easily set you up with legal problems. Using readily available proxy servers and disposable emails anyone could set up a simple webpage outside of Canada with a theme of “I hate [enter favoured group here] and then post a link to it on your forum or blog. A screen shot of both the created page and the hyperlink on your page is all the evidence needed to show the new law has been violated.

I am no kinda expert on human rights tribunals/commissions (paging Dr. Dawg), but I do know that the speechies loathe them. (And today, we find out that Ontario Top Con Man, Tim Hudak, has backed off from his promise to axe the tribunal here. Building a 'big tent' party ain't so easy, is it, Timmie?)

But if Fournier's reading is correct -- if a little paranoid -- then blogs like DJ! are in beeeg trouble. Not to mention Facebook pages, Tweets, and whatever new fangled toys the Intertoobz geniuses come up with.

Given that we are facing four or five years of authoritarian, liberal-loathing Harperism, shouldn't we progressives be a tad worried?

And, for that matter, shouldn't the telcos and ISPs be howling at the expense of such monitoring?

It seems to me that this could be a great issue for the Fucking Useless Opposition® and a way to make some new and old Con MPs veeeery uncomfortable under a deluge of outraged letters, emails, tweets, and phone calls.

But, as Fournier points out, we'd better act quickly. SHithead vows to pass his omnibus Stoopid on Crime bill within 100 days.

Oh-oh. Brian Lilley is on it. I like his last paragraph.
The Harper Conservatives won a majority Monday, they can pass this bill without relying on any other party for support. But they still need your support and your donations and the Canadian public should tell them they will get neither if they put forward bills like this that attack liberty.

UPDATE: HOLY CRAP! Link to Michael Geist from reader Mark Francis.
. . . more important than process is the substance of the proposals that have the potential to fundamentally reshape the Internet in Canada. The bills contain a three-pronged approach focused on information disclosure, mandated surveillance technologies, and new police powers.


Mark Francis said...

I'm beside myself.

Give this a read:

"...disclosure of Internet provider customer information without court oversight. "

"...Internet providers to dramatically re-work their networks to allow for real-time surveillance. The bill sets out detailed capability requirements that will eventually apply to all Canadian Internet providers. These include the power to intercept communications, to isolate the communications to a particular individual, and to engage in multiple simultaneous interceptions."

" transmission data warrants that would grant real-time access to all the information generated during the creation, transmission or reception of a communication including the type, direction, time, duration, origin, destination or termination of the communication.

Law enforcement could then obtain a preservation order to require providers to preserve subscriber information, including specific communication information, for 90 days. Finally, having obtained and preserved the data, production orders can be used to require the disclosure of specified communications or transmission data. "

fern hill said...

Holy crap! Michael Geist.

Scotian said...

And this surprises anyone? Really? Truly? Given this government's contempt for our traditional legal protocols and values, given this government's clear need for absolute information control and monitoring of the citizenry for its own purposes, given its absolute hatred for any voices that dare to be critical of it (aka tell the truth about what it is doing) why is anyone surprised this is a high priority for this government to be doing? I wasn't being hyperbolic in my criticisms of Harperco all these years you know, and this comes as no surprise to me, and I suspect it is aimed at political dissent first and foremost, to make it far more difficult and then to tie up the courts with ruling on whether it is legally allowable under the Charter while planning on reshaping the SCC so that by the time such challenges make it there that their judges have the majority and decide that it is.

Since it will at first only affect/be used against the tiny fraction of the populace that politically blogs most Canadians will not see much infringement, not until the reign is complete and then these same laws are used more broadly to not just monitor all Canadians but to be intrusive upon all aspects of internet use. By then though the damage is done. Seems impossible to those of us that grew up believing in the citizens right to free speech and such? Nope, and ironically enough for those speechies at FD the ONLY possible protection now against such is Trudeau's Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Courts precedents in interpreting them, because prior to its implantation into the Constitution one could take away all rights from the citizenry by simple legislative fiat, and this is a government that clearly would do so against all those that its finds repugnant. The thing to pay close attention for is whether and where if it does use the "Notwithstanding" clause to get around Charter protections IMHO, that will be key in showing where Harper is truly willing to go and how far he is willing to go to destroy the society we have evolved into to date.

Welcome to the New World Order and Big Brother version 3.0 Canadian style people, and don't forget who to thank for it when it comes to your door. Not that it will do much good if some of the more fearful among us about Harper's true intentions like ck regarding elections are concerned have it correct, while I may not be there with her on that this is the first time I have ever seen it as even remotely possible under a Canadian government.

Dr.Dawg said...

Now, perhaps, the Speech Warriors are getting a good look at the government most of them elected. It's all Big Brother, not laissez-faire.

Put the Human Rights Commissions/Tribunals in brackets for now. They're a major bugbear of the far right, because they provide curbs on hate speech. But some of the other points being made by the anti-Big Brother types are worthy of attention.

I find it hard to believe that publishing under an alias, if it isn't for the purposes of fraud, could be made illegal. Well beyond the Charter (which the Speech Warriors also hate).

Plenty here to chew on and worry about, however.

kate raynes-goldie said...

thanks for the great coverage of this. all i can say is *head desk*

question tho: isn't this bill c46?

c51 is another awful bill -

Anonymous said...

Facebook? If this does anything to Facebook the backlash will be huge. Hell Facebook won't stand for it.

Anonymous said...

Worse that that. Wikileaks said, the N.A.U. is on the way. (the North American Union. This was Harper's evil agenda all along. Harper was beside himself, frantic, begging for a majority, and rabid to win this election. Many don't think Harper did win the election. Well, Canada will be the largest state in the U.S.A. Our currency will be, the Amero dollar. There will be, the South American Union. The Asian Union. The European Union. I forget what Union Russia, the Ukraine and such is called.

All I knew, as soon as Harper won or had stolen his majority, we could kiss Canada good-bye.

Anonymous said...

So, I guess Wayne Crookes was dangerous after all (pushed the exact same position for civil libel suits). Time to donate to those who fight him, and who will fight this. Civil harassment is if anything worse than criminal as there is no check nor control on whom files a lawsuit or how persistent they are.

fern hill said...

I didn't know about Wayne Crookes.

Pixie said...

It's already happening people, the shut-down of all of our societal protections. Read about a story about a Canadian woman and her daughter, then ask yourself why no Canadian media is picking it up:

Anonymous said...

This is all about limiting Free Speech. After all, censorship is everywhere. The gov’t (and their big business cronies) censor free speech, shut down dissent and ban the book “America Deceived II”. Free speech for all.
Last link (before Google Books bans it also]:

fern hill said...

Anonymous @12.38: your link doesn't go to a book, just homepage for self-publishing. Your point is rather lost.

Anonymous said...

Got you libtards on the run now. Gonna lock you up in concentration camps until you learn to run a crooked business and buy connections to pols. Then you can be a pillar of community.

pod said...
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