The Grand Signal

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A digital magazine covering the intersection of technology, human rights and social change.

Canadian cyberbullying law aims to increase online surveillance

November 23, 2013 | Written by Trevor Dowling
Photo courtesy of waferboard on Flickr |

Some see a new cyberbullying law Bill C-13 facing the Canadian parliament as an attempt by the government to give law enforcement more power to monitor online interaction. The bill, which responds to the high-profile deaths of two Canadian kids who faced vicious online bullying, is intended to criminalize the digital distribution of ‘intimate images’ without consent.

Concern has arisen due to many aspects of the bill which relate to internet surveillance, some likening it to Bill C-30 which was proposed as a means of attacking child pornography but scrapped after significant public scrutiny revealed a ‘hidden agenda’. The earlier bill proposed giving law enforcement increased access to internet users data without judicial oversight.

The newly proposed bill, while enforcing judicial oversight, gives ISPs the right to voluntarily disclose information on internet users to law enforcement without facing criminal or civil consequences. The bill would give law enforcement unprecedented access to metadata which is the information ISPs and phone companies keep on calls and emails. Some have suggested that it was this kind of legal precedent which made possible much of the NSA’s domestic spying in the United States.

Some have hailed the bill as strengthening the laws necessary to stem the outbreak of cyberbullying and as a step towards a modernized legal code in regards to telecommunications. Concern remains about the scope of the legislation.


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