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It's a huge win for Canadian privacy rights as Supreme Court rules government warrantless disclosure requests unconstitutional

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In a landmark decision, Canada’s Supreme Court decided today that the government cannot request your private information from Internet providers without a warrant. It’s a huge win for privacy and civil liberties advocates across the country, who have been speaking out in massive numbers against proposed legislation that threatened to make warrantless disclosure the norm. We couldn’t be more thrilled with the ruling and with the efforts of our online community. Way to go!

The battle for privacy rights in Canada has been heating up for quite some time. Recently, we discovered that the government requested Canadians’ private information without a warrant over 1.2 million times in a single 12 month period. This means that government made requests for private information to telecom companies nearly once every 27 seconds. The information that the ISPs supplied can be incredibly invasive, revealing intimate details about your Internet usage, your phone records, and your private life.

Following these revelations, tens of thousands of Canadians spoke out at https://OurPrivacy.ca. The response has been inspiring and sent a clear message to our government: we value our privacy rights and demand that government stand up to protect them.

Unfortunately, prior to today’s ruling, the government has been going in exactly the opposite direction, proposing reckless new spying legislation that would grant immunity to telcos that hand over your private information without a warrant. If Bill C-13 passes, police and other government agencies could ask ISPs to hand over your information merely on the suspicion that you may be up to something without ever having to run that suspicion by a judge. Furthermore, the telcos that hand your information over would be under no obligation to let you know that they shared your info.

Even worse, Bills C-13 and S-4 threaten to open your private information up to a frightening array of agencies, businesses, and individuals. C-13 would allow a wide range of public officials access to your private information, including mayors, and even fisheries officers. S-4 would allow telecom providers to share subscriber information with virtually everyone, based merely on an accusation.

These bills are currently under review in parliament, and until today the government showed no sign of backing down, despite pressure from high-profile Canadians from across the political spectrum, including the government’s own nominee for privacy commissioner.

Now it looks like the government will have to go back to the drawing board on Bills C-13 and S-4. That’s why it’s more important than ever to keep the pressure on, and let the government know that Canadians will never accept legislation that undermines our constitutionally guaranteed privacy rights. So let’s take a moment to celebrate today’s historic move, then let’s get back to work rallying Canadians everywhere to stand up for privacy.

Here’s how you can help:

Let’s keep speaking up - we can win this!

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Eva Prkachin is Online Community Facilitator with OpenMedia.org

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