Online surveillance bill to get early committee review
Earlier committee review to allow for more changes
The government says it will consider amendments to legislation to increase police powers when it comes to internet subscriber information, but it will be at least two weeks before that happens.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Wednesday — one day after he introduced Bill C-30 — that the bill would go "directly to committee."
Candice Hoeppner, Toews' parliamentary secretary, confirmed that the bill would go to committee before second reading in an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CBC's Power & Politics.
Normally, bills go to committee after a vote at second reading. But that vote fixes the scope of amendments that can be made, so sending the bill to committee before the second reading vote will allow MPs to make bigger changes to the legislation.
The House of Commons isn't sitting the week of Feb. 20, and the legislation isn't on the government's list of items up for debate the next week when MPs return from their ridings.
The proposed law, which would force internet service providers to hand over customer information to police without a warrant, faced opposition even before it was tabled because of previous incarnations that didn’t make it through Parliament.
Internet advocacy group Openmedia.ca has had a petition online since June 22, 2011 to protest the legislation, which it refers to as "warrantless wiretapping." It's now closing in on 100,000 signatures, with 20,000 people signing on since Tuesday.
Internet users fight back
Twitter users also fought back in the few days since the legislation was introduced, sending Toews messages on the social media site about the inane details of their lives, including what they were eating for lunch or what time of day it was. The #tellviceverything stream trended briefly worldwide, and nationwide for much of the day. "Hey Vic" and "Bill C-30" also trended in Canada. Trending indicates a topic's popularity.
The Liberal Party has also launched a petition, which had almost 10,000 signatures after its first day online.
Another user running an anonymous Twitter account released alleged details of Toews' divorce, telling readers "Vic wants to know about you. Let's get to know about Vic."
The Ottawa Citizen reported it traced the user's IP address back to the House of Commons server. Toews said he is sending a complaint to the House speaker.