Earlier this week, Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced the federal government will not proceed with Bill C-30. This bill, also known as the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, would have required Internet service providers to provide law enforcement agencies with access to their customers’ online communications without a warrant.
To say this bill was divisive is an understatement. When I first blogged about C-30 about a year ago, sparks were flying. Numerous civil liberties and rights groups were vocally opposed to the proposed legislation. Even Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, weighed in on the debate, calling on the government to amend the bill to respect Canadians’ privacy rights. Opposition to the bill resulted in it being sent back to committee to be amended, and until yesterday, its future was uncertain.
I was pleased with the Minister’s reasoning for killing C-30. Nicolson cited public opposition to the bill as the reason the government will not proceed with it: “We have listened to the concerns of Canadians who have been very clear on this.”
Last week I blogged about the rising power of the end user in shaping and influencing the development of the Internet. In that post, I said “The people who use the Internet – and there is about 2 billion of them – have a voice.” The death of bill C-30 is just another example of how powerful their voice can be.
As an aside, I’m sure Bill C-30 will be discussed at the Canadian Internet Forum (CIF) in a couple of weeks. The CIF is the place for Canadians to share their thoughts on the development, deployment and governance of the Internet in Canada. In fact, Jennifer Stoddart is this year’s keynote speaker. If you are interested in issues like bill C-30, I encourage you to join us at the CIF on February 28. The event is free, and if you are unable to attend in-person in Ottawa, it will be webcast.