Canada: Section 34 of the Online Surveillance Bill Would Give Orwellian Powers to Government-Appointed ‘Inspectors’
Online surveillance bill opens door for Big Brother
Section 34 gives Orwellian powers to government-appointed ‘inspectors’
By Terry Milewski
“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time.” - George Orwell, 1984.
It’s often forgotten that, for Orwell, 1984 was far in the future — a distant and imaginary hell. Published 35 years earlier, in 1949, his book conjured up a surveillance state filled with chilling new concepts: “Big Brother,” “Thought Police” and “Newspeak.”
Today, 1984 has come and gone but Big Brother is real and present in ways Orwell never imagined. In China, the very names of imprisoned dissidents are banned from the internet. In Saudi Arabia, an unholy tweet can bring you a death sentence.
Here in Canada, though, freedom reigns. A sign of that may be that the government’s new plan for policing cyberspace is in big trouble.
Within 24 hours of its unsteady launch, the government pledged to send its new legislation straight to committee for amendments — some of which may come from the restive Conservative back benches. The bill is “too intrusive,” said New Brunswick Conservative MP John Williamson. Conservative voices across the land agreed — to say nothing of NDP and Liberal ones.
Conservative MPs don’t usually grumble about Conservative legislation — especially when one of their front-line cabinet ministers has declared that Canadians must “either stand with us or with the child pornographers.”