Bill C 30 and the folly of tweeting twits

Like most Canadian Internet geeks, over the past week or so, I have been seething over the egregious stupidity of the Conservative government's Bill C-30 - the so-called Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act.

Like most Canadian Internet geeks, over the past week or so, I have been seething over the egregious stupidity of the Conservative government’s Bill C-30 – the so-called Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act.

This is legislation that would allow the RCMP, our national police force, to track the Internet activities of pretty much any Canadian, without court warrant, and without the right of that citizen to know he or she has been tracked.

That a political opportunist, like Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews, has the unprincipled audacity to say that people opposed to this legislation are “on the side of the child pornographers” sums up the intellectual and moral viciousness of the people who have drafted and proposed this legislation.

But though he has become the target of choice for abuse by those opposed to the bill, Toews is really only the poster child (if we can say that, without drawing down suspicion of a propensity for child pornography) for a larger, witless, uninformed and outdated gang in the Conservative party.

The sad thing about this outrage is that it is now so wearyingly familiar.

Anti-democratic and stupid as the proposed legislation is, it is really not that much different from the legislation proposed (but mercifully left unpassed) by the Liberal government of Paul Martin in 2005, or by the Harper minority government before the last election.

The difference is that we had minority governments in those days – ones not likely to weather the storm of controversy needed to see the proposed legislation through into law.

With a majority Conservative government now in place, that protective shield is gone.

Having had the good idea to dispense with one really bad, expensive idea – the gun registry – the Tories are now writing themselves a cheque for their own bad, expensive idea and no one can stop them this time.

That, in itself, is a reason for intense concern.

What increases my worry is that the two main functional problems with the implementation of this kind of law – that our politicians are IT-incompetent and our police just plain overall incompetent – have not changed and are not likely to change in the near future.

Remember, it was the federal government that brought you Nortel, Corel and is shortly going to bring you RIM corporate welfare.

And remember it was the RCMP that brought you the Lockerby and Robert Pickton investigations.

Do you seriously trust either of these organizations to protect you, your Internet security or your citizens’ rights?

A decade or so ago, as a manager of a local Internet service provider, I made a habit of paying regular visits to “hacker” websites – mostly feeble “kitty-hacker” wanna-be boasting sites, where recently post-pubescent males would do preening-monkey displays about how to hack into services like the one I was running.

For me, this was a “know your enemy” operation.

If the proposed Conservative legislation had been in force at that time, I could have been placed in the awkward position of having to allow the RCMP to put in place technology to track and record my own “suspicious” activities. And the RCMP, I am sure, would have concluded, with their characteristic investigatory legerdemain, that I was some kind of infiltrator/terrorist.

Knowing what link somebody clicks on does not tell you anything about the motive that person has for clicking on that link.

Nobody, obviously, wants to support the on-line rights of pedophiles or child-murdering terrorists. But it is sheer madness to think that our brain-dead bureaucrats, or incompetent police, are going to be able to responsibly monitor or evaluate our Internet activities.

On the other hand, the activities of people who have used the Internet to harass and embarrass Vic Toews personally have done nothing but play into his hands and the hands of his anti-democratic allies.

Note to geeks: Don’t tweet-harass twits or air their private dirty laundry in Internet public space. You only allow them to claim a moral high ground to which they otherwise have no claim.

I wish I could say I saw some hope in the fact that Bill C-30 is going now into further parliamentary scrutiny.

But, given that the Liberal party has a demonstrated history of being as IT-incompetent as the Conservatives and that the NDP has a long history of being IT-irrelevant, I don’t have much confidence that whatever version of the bill ultimately comes to the house and gets passed, will not be a bad one.

We may find ourselves thrown on the not-very-promising mercies of the Supreme Court of Canada to protect our personal liberties.

Maybe what we really need is a parliamentary act that disallows Parliament from passing any acts relating to information technology until it has been scientifically-proven that the people drafting or approving such legislation are not a computer-illiterate, obsolete old coots.

Rick Steele is a technology junkie who lives in Whitehorse.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

President Joe Biden signs executive orders after speaking about the coronavirus, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris in the State Dinning Room of the White House on Jan. 21, in Washington, D.C. The administration announced plans Jan. 20 for a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after the Trump administration issued leases in a part of the refuge considered sacred by the Gwich’in. (Alex Brandon/AP)
U.S. President Joe Biden halts oil and gas lease sales in ANWR

“Its great to have an ally in the White House”


Wyatt’s World for Jan. 22, 2021

Children’s performer Claire Ness poses for a photo for the upcoming annual Pivot Festival. “Claire Ness Morning” will be a kid-friendly performance streamed on the morning of Jan. 30. (Photo courtesy Erik Pinkerton Photography)
Pivot Festival provides ‘delight and light’ to a pandemic January

The festival runs Jan. 20 to 30 with virtual and physically distant events

The Boulevard of Hope was launched by the Yukon T1D Support Network and will be lit up throughout January. It is aimed at raising awareness about Yukoners living with Type 1 diabetes. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Boulevard of Hope sheds light on Type 1 diabetes

Organizers hope to make it an annual event

City of Whitehorse city council meeting in Whitehorse on Oct. 5, 2020. An updated council procedures bylaw was proposed at Whitehorse city council’s Jan. 18 meeting that would see a few changes to council meetings and how council handles certain matters like civil emergencies. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse procedures bylaw comes forward

New measures proposed for how council could deal with emergencies

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a councillor on the phone during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on April 14, 2020. Curtis announced Jan. 14 that he intends to seek nomination to be the Yukon Liberal candidate for Whitehorse Centre in the 2021 territorial election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse mayor seeking nomination for territorial election

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis is preparing for a run in the upcoming… Continue reading

Gerard Redinger was charged under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> with failing to self-isolate and failing to transit through the Yukon in under 24 hours. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Man ticketed $1,150 at Wolf Creek campground for failing to self-isolate

Gerard Redinger signed a 24-hour transit declaration, ticketed 13 days later

Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tax changes sought for Whitehorse energy projects

Delegates call for separate property tax category for renewable energy projects

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Most Read