Home > C13, Politics, Privacy > Federal Privacy Commissioner Cautious On Cyber Bullying Bill

Federal Privacy Commissioner Cautious On Cyber Bullying Bill

The Federal Privacy Commissioner cautiously supports to the Governments controversial cyber bullying legislation and expanded police powers in the lawful access provisions. In a statement to the globe and mail, the outgoing Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart stated:

“I think it stands to reason that in order to literally police the Internet, you do need these powers. And if you want to be effective against cyberbullying, I would understand you do need extraordinary powers, so it doesn’t seem to me inappropriate,” she said. “That’s my take on it at the moment, but as we learn more, perhaps there are things in there that you don’t need.”

Stoddart also said that her office is looking into this matter deeply and will be reporting fully on the new legislation at a later date. Stoddart stated that her issue with respect to the last attempt at lawful access regarding lack of judicial oversight has been “partially addressed” in this legislation, however cautioned that she has found problems with the bill, and wouldn’t elaborate on that.  As stated in a previous post, there seems to be a loop hole that would allow warrant-less access to your information through your internet provider.

Both the BC Civil Liberties Association (quoted in the Globe and Mail article) and the NDP are calling for the Government to split up the cyber bullying and lawful access provisions of this legislation in order for both to be debated separately.  A move I strongly support.  The lawful access provisions of the cyber bullying bill will have far reaching effects than the cyber bullying provisions, and both need careful and separate examination and public debate.  There has been no official statement from the Liberals on this issue.

The Department of Justice has issued a media roll call for today at 12:00pm to discuss the technical details of the cyber bullying legislation.  More to come…

UPDATE Nov/28th 4:35pm: The Privacy Commissioner has released a statement clarifying her offices’ response to the cyber bullying legislation along with concerns of her office which include:

  •    new investigative powers, (including preservation orders) proposed by the Bill and the thresholds for their use;
  •     the potentially large number of “public officers” who would be able to use these significant new powers; and
  •     a lack of accountability and reporting mechanisms to shed light on the use of new investigative powers.

The preservation orders of this legislation refer to the voluntary disclosure loop hole that would allow warrant-less access to your information through your internet provider.  Michael Geist explains that provision further here and here.  It appears with this latest statement on the cyber bullying legislation from the Privacy Commissioner, those provisions are also of concern to her office.

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