NDP wants privacy, security experts to probe warrantless data gathering

The federal New Democrats are calling for a group of independent experts to investigate warrantless data collection by the federal government.

Charlie Angus, Francoise Boivin warn government to tread carefully on internet privacy

NDP MP Charlie Angus and his party want a group of independent experts to investigate warrantless data collection by the federal government. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

New Democrat MP Charlie Angus is warning the government to expect a backlash from Canadians if the Conservatives force through new legislation critics say will hurt privacy rights.

Angus, who is his party's ethics critic, and NDP justice critic Françoise Boivin called Monday for a group of independent experts to investigate warrantless data collection by the federal government.

The Official Opposition says it also wants the group to recommend ways to ensure the privacy of Canadians is protected in the digital era.

Angus and Boivin said they were relieved when a previous bill, C-30, was withdrawn, but the government has simply resurrected the same measures in a new cybercrime bill.

In 2012, then-public safety minister Vic Toews told an opposition MP that he could stand with the government "or with the child pornographers.​"

Angus says the Conservatives "take the attitude that if you challenge them, you're somehow on the side of child pornographers."

"We saw how Canadians rose up against Vic Toews and his belligerent attitude. It's like the ghost of Vic Toews is back. And I would warn the government, Canadians have already spoken clearly on this once ... They will speak again if you keep pushing them."

'Overreaching' powers

Two government bills being reviewed by Parliament would change the laws affecting the privacy of Canadians.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay's cybercrime bill, C-13, has already drawn controversy. The bill, which the government says is meant to prevent cyberbullying, would entrench in law some of the warrantless surveillance practices already used by police.

The digital privacy act, S-4, would update the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act​ to allow organizations to disclose personal information of subscribers or customers without a court order.​

    Privacy watchdog groups raised their concerns about potential privacy breaches with bills now before Parliament.

    Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian has said the cybercrime bill has "overreaching surveillance powers."

    with files from CBC News