Last week, a new anti-terror bill passed through Canada’s House of Commons despite widespread criticism of the bill and even protests across the country.
C-51, or the Anti-Terrorism Act, may now become law. If it does, it will give spy agencies more power than even before. As well as gathering information on citizens, the Canadian government will be able to monitor passport applications and place more names on the no-fly list.
Most worryingly for privacy advocates, though, the bill will allow the sharing of information across government agencies, departments and institutions – and not just in the name of “national security”, but in the name of “the economic and financial stability of Canada”. This is even more vague than the “national security” excuse.
In addition, the bill gives the Canadian Security Intelligence Service the right to make “preventative arrests” and detain civilians without charge for up to seven days. It also prohibits speech that “promotes or glorifies terrorism”, which in its unspecific nature could be used to refer to any speech that criticizes the government or those in power.
In short, the bill expands the powers already enjoyed by Canada’s spy agencies, and introduces clauses so vague that they threaten both the privacy and right to free speech of Canada’s citizens. While it seems many Western governments are sliding slowly towards laws like these, the implementation of this law in the face of such widespread backlash would make for a sad day in Canadian politics.
If you’d prefer not to see such legislation made law, you can find out how to make your voice heard here.
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