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We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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UOIT researcher flags privacy concerns in two recent bills

Dr. Andrea Slane, Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, UOIT.
Dr. Andrea Slane, Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, UOIT.

The federal government-proposed anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-51, is on its way to becoming law before Parliament breaks for the summer. It passed its third reading in the House of Commons on May 8 and has now moved on to the Senate for consideration. While it purports to make it easier to counter threats and keep Canadians safer, many privacy and security experts are concerned that the many new, sweeping information-sharing powers it would grant national security agencies would come at the expense of civil liberties.

Dr. Andrea Slane at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) recently co-authored an opinion piece for the National Post, entitled How C-51 undermines privacy, in which she and researchers from three other universities expressed their concerns with the bill. Their concerns lie with Part 1 of C-51, which enacts the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act (SCISA). With SCISA, any government institution would have the ability to pass information to any of the 17 listed recipient institutions, where that information is deemed relevant to the national security responsibilities of the recipient. It also permits further disclosure “to any person, for any purpose,” which can include foreign partners.

“This low test of relevance to the recipient’s responsibilities, coupled with unrestricted disclosure and a broad definition of national security that goes far beyond terrorism, potentially sweeps up a vast amount of information about people who are not suspected of anything,” the researchers wrote.

Online privacy

Privacy concerns have also been raised about Bill C-13, the Conservative government’s anti-cyberbullying legislation, which came into effect in March. The law makes it illegal to distribute intimate images of a person without their consent, and also creates new tools for law enforcement to investigate online crime. The intent is to make people feel safer online and put the brakes on online harassment – but some experts worry it makes it too easy for the government to collect and catalogue citizens’ personal information.

Dr. Slane, an Associate Professor with the university’s Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, appeared before the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in November 2014 alongside a number of other experts to present her views on the bill. She noted that while there are many aspects of the bill she supports, including the new offence on non‑consensual distribution of intimate images, the bill would benefit from some improvements.

“There are important tools in this bill that need to be implemented, but I would agree that there are things that need to be tweaked in order to make those tools appropriate to the privacy protection of all of us that is set out in the Charter,” she said.

Specifically, she commented on how transmission data or metadata – which provides information such as date, time, size or destination of a message transmitted over the Internet – can reveal information about people's habits, interests and identities that are  just as sensitive as what you might find in the content of the message.

However, under this law, a transmission data warrant can be issued under grounds of reasonable suspicion - a lower threshold than reasonable belief, which is the standard for most other warrants.

Given how much sensitive information is contained within metadata, Dr. Slane said the threshold for obtaining a transmission data warrant is too low and should be amended.