The Canadian government's plans for its bill to give law enforcement greater powers over consumer internet information may be on hold, but a consumer group isn't giving up the fight against lawful access.
OpenMedia.ca, which has helped lead the backlash against bill C-30, is releasing an online ad about the proposed law Thursday morning.
The bill would force internet and telecommunications service providers to install equipment to collect information on customers in case police obtain a judicial warrant to retrieve it.
The ad says C-30, also known as the lawful access, online spying or warrantless wiretapping bill, will let the government create profiles of internet users and allow online use to be traced back to the user. It also says the information will be more vulnerable to hackers and that consumers will end up paying for the cost of the equipment needed for companies to implement the legislation.
The ad was prompted when Public Safety Minister Vic Toews refuted a news report last week that said the government wouldn't move ahead with the bill.
Conservative government spokespeople have repeatedly refused to say when the bill will go to committee for study. The legislation has been tabled in the House but not been debated since a massive public backlash the week it was released on Feb. 14, more than three months ago.
Steve Anderson, the founder of Openmedia.ca, said Public Safety seems determined to bring in some kind of lawful access legislation, but that it's hard to say whether C-30 will survive.
"I think that sooner or later they’ll definitely bring it back," he said. "It seems like Vic Toews thinks it certainly will, and he would know more than we would."
"My guess would be that they will try to get this one through a parliamentary committee."
Conservatives allowing for changes
A spokeswoman for Toews declined to respond to the points laid out in the ad and pointed instead to the government's plan to allow major changes to the proposed law.
"Bill C-30 will be sent to committee prior to second reading for a discussion on how to best protect Canadians from online crime while respecting the privacy of law-abiding Canadians," Julie Carmichael said in an email.
Parliamentarians can't make major changes to proposed legislation at the usual committee stage, so Toews and Prime Minister Stephen Harper conceded they'll allow a House committee to study the bill sooner than usual.
Police, intelligence and Competition Bureau officials would be able to obtain customer names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, internet protocol (IP) addresses, and a local service provider identifier.
Police officials have denied that they will be able to see the content people have accessed and say they therefore can't "track" people with this data.
But Chantal Bernier, assistant privacy commissioner of Canada, said that according to her office's technologists, the six easily obtainable types of subscriber data are enough information to identify a person and track where he or she goes online.