Canada's Internet Surveillance Bill Is Officially Dead

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Almost a year ago, Canada's Public Safety Minister Vic Toews introduced an Internet surveillance bill called C-30 that would require ISPs to collect all information on their customers. The bill was met with a massive retaliation at the hands of clvil liberties groups and Anonymous. Now, after a year of bitter struggle, the Canadian government has killed the bill.

The Globe and Mail reports that Canada's Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced this week that Bill C-30 is officially dead. In the announcement, Nicholson said the government abandoned the bill after listening "to the concerns of Canadians." He also said that any attempts to modernize the country's criminal code will not contain "warrantless mandatory disclosure of basic subscriber information or the the requirement for telecommunications service providers to build intercept capability within their systems."

The bad parts of the bill may be dead, but Canada is preserving one part of it for law enforcement. The police will be allowed to make use of warrantless wiretaps in the case of an emergency, but there are a few important caveats included in the legislation.

For one, police must alert citizens they were subject to a wiretap after an investigation has been closed. The government is also required to issue annual reports on how wiretaps are used. Finally, warrantless wiretaps are restricted to only certain officials for certain crimes.

It's certainly different from how wiretapping works in the U.S. FISA allows the government to wiretap anyone without a warrant, and without ever notifying them. Some members of Congress have worked towards making it more transparent, but proponents argue that it must be kept secret.

Canada's killing of C-30 comes on the heels of an expected cybersecurity executive order that may very well curtail more privacy on the Internet for Americans. Maybe it's time American lawmakers looked north for a little inspiration for how Internet surveillance should really work - limited and transparent.

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