Saturday, February 25, 2012

A pause on the internet surveillance bill?

So reports the Globe late last night: "Ottawa hits pause on Web surveillance act."
The Harper government is temporarily parking controversial legislation that would grant new powers to authorities to police the Internet while it consults on how to rewrite it to assuage privacy concerns among Canadians and within caucus.
This report is mostly based on "sources familiar with the government's plans," so it's clearly an effort to roll out a new strategy with the bill. Take it for what it is.

Beyond the apparent temporary parking of C-30, we read of the Conservatives being in "no rush" with the bill, that it's "unlikely to be moved forward in the next couple of weeks." It appears that on C-30, they'll play for time, hoping the public uproar subsides. And they want their C-30 allies to start to work on public opinion:
Police forces and provincial governments still support the bill, and the Harper Conservatives are counting on these backers to speak out loudly in the weeks and months ahead when it tries to rewrite the bill at committee.
Thus the need for those interested in the legislation from privacy and other perspectives to remain vigilant.

What else do we have here? Oh yes, an effort to distance Harper from C-30:
"Conservatives make no secret of the fact this isn’t Stephen Harper’s favourite bill, meaning that, during a slow economic recovery, he’d rather be associated with other legislative priorities."
Like the omnibus crime bill, ending the Wheat Board and the repeal of the gun registry, for example? How are those things helping with a "slow economic recovery?" The big Harper majority government legislative achievements are not really economically related. Reads like a predictable effort to pivot back to their supposed strong suit, "the economy."

More...apparently the Conservatives didn't really want to bring C-30 forward, the public security types made 'em do it:
Unlike most tough-on-crime bills, its measures did not spring from grassroots concerns or fears. The legislation is based on requests from the public security bureaucracy in Canada to bolster police powers for the Internet age that the Tories have felt compelled to address.
Beware the spin, as always. It certainly looks like they're trying to improve the favourability of the conditions in which it will be brought back before a Commons committee, in the weeks (or months) ahead.

Elsewhere, if you missed them this week, there were a few items that came up on the C-30 front that should be assessed by the Commons committee whenever this legislation makes it there: The costs of the bill which could be astronomical given U.S. comparative figures; and the relationship between C-30 and the government's new counter-terrorism strategy, which some are warning might lead to surveillance of political and social activists.