Canadian Experts Fighting Cyberbullying Bill’s Anti-Privacy Features

Privacy experts in Canada are raising concerns over a new anti-cyberbullying bill that could allow police to access user phone data or track their location.

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Photo: Alexander Mak / Shutterstock

Bill C-13 has been described as having “very little to do with cyberbullying” by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA). The bill will expand the powers of the police, says the CCLA, and allow for the remote hacking of mobile devices and collection of metadata.

The CCLA recently appeared before Canada’s House of Commons to express their concerns.

“In particular, CCLA believes the new offence (non-consensual distribution of intimate images) may be addressing a gap in the current law, but is draft in a way that is overly broad and unreasonably restricts freedom of expression,” the organization wrote.

CCLA also takes issue with a number of the new investigative powers, some of which allow access to a detailed profile of an individual’s activities on the low standard of “reasonable grounds to suspect”. In addition, the powers do not come with appropriate accountability and transparency mechanisms.

The CCLA presented a document (PDF) that outlines their concerns though the Department of Justice did not provide an immediate reply.

The organization’s concerns have since been corroborated by Canada’s new privacy commissioner, Daniel Therrien, who stated that the bill should be divided into two parts followed by an independent review. “Yes and that there should be an independent review, because I think Canadians want to know more about why police and security agencies require information,” he said, when asked of his thoughts by officials.