It seems the federal government is making headway in its desire to spy on Canadians’
every online move.
A recent poll shows the biggest enemy in government access to private Internet activity — citizen outrage — may be waning.
Loud opposition from the public led the Conservatives in 2012 to kill its online spying bill (with a title so transparently manipulative as to be insulting — the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act).
But this week, an Ipsos Reid poll showed about 77 per cent of 1,134 Canadians surveyed thought online spying is OK during efforts to prevent terrorist attacks.
Looks like it’s time to repeat a few reasons why it’s important to protect privacy rights.
The complacent among us usually say something like, “I’ve got nothing to hide. Let them spy on me.”
This assumes a lot.
First, it assumes spying is done solely to root out evildoers. Even if this truly was the original intent, that power is much too tempting to hand over to politicians desperate for votes.
And Canada has no shortage of experience with governing parties abusing powers for political ends.
Second, it assumes that only benevolent protectors can access your privacy. In fact, a backdoor entry into your computer can be hacked and used against you. China detected dissidents by accessing Gmail accounts thanks to Google’s lawful interception of information.
And third, it assumes innocent actions will always be viewed as innocent. There are endless examples of benign behaviours triggering suspicion, investigation, arrest and — even after being exonerated — a life of presumed guilt.
Finally, it assumes you’re erring on the side of caution. In fact freedom and safety are far more threatened when rights are relinquished than from terrorists.
And one last point — has anyone noticed the Tories’ demands for citizens’ personal correspondence and online habits are directly proportional to their contempt for public scrutiny?
One of the most egregious examples was last year when the government dismantled the office that oversees spies.
Then again, who can blame them? No one likes people poking around in their business.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.