59 leaders of some of the most innovative tech companies in Canada today signed this letter asking Prime Minister Harper to rethink Bill C-51.
There were 60 of us all together.
Since it went out earlier this week, strangers and friends have reached out to tell me I was brave.
“I was too afraid to even like it on Facebook,” I’ve been told. “I was afraid I’d end up up on the Government’s enemy list,” a couple confided.
But that’s why we’re taking a stand against the bill. Because we don’t think fear should be the most powerful force in the country. And because we believe the bill is ill-conceived, we think it is our duty to speak truth to power.
That shouldn’t make us radicals. Or brave. It should just make us responsible citizens.
Those of us who signed the letter have common concerns.
Bill C-51 is reckless, dangerous, and ineffective:
- The bill is reckless because it turns CSIS into what The Globe and Mail calls a ‘secret police’ force with little oversight or accountability.
- The bill is dangerous because it opens the door for violations of our Charter Rights including censorship of free expression online.
- The bill is ineffective because it will lead to dragnet surveillance and information sharing on innocent Canadians that even Stephen Harper has admitted is ineffective. Experts have also said it the bill is vague and ineffective.
- The more Canadians find out about what’s in Bill C-51, the less they like it. Public opinion has swung dramatically, with the majority of Canadians now opposing the bill.
Canadian business leaders are warning that Bill C-51 will cause serious damage to Canada’s economy:
- By undermining international trust, the legislation will stifle Canada’s businesses and damage the overall economy.
- By criminalizing free expression and allowing for the takedown of websites, the legislation will harm Canadians’ online services and businesses ability to conduct commerce online.
- By granting the Communications Security Establishment a mandate to conduct domestic spying, the legislation will damage Canada’s reputation as a trustworthy international partner.
- By making it easier to place people on a no-fly list, the legislation will cause problems with ‘false positives’, harming international travel and commerce.
- By undermining Canada’s reputation for data security, the legislation will force many businesses to host their online presence elsewhere, such as in the European Union which has stronger data security safeguards.
Impact on our democracy and everyday lives:
- Bill C-51 will harm our democracy by putting law-abiding Canadians under the government’s microscope.
- It greatly expands the powers of CSIS, while doing nothing to tackle the already insufficient oversight of that agency’s activities.
- If the bill passes, our sensitive private information would be shared between no fewer than 17 government agencies and even handed to foreign governments:
- This includes sensitive information that can reveal everything from your financial status, to your medical history, your sexual orientation, and even your religious and political beliefs.
- Victims of these privacy breaches wouldn’t even be informed – that means the government could spy on anyone, at anytime, and we wouldn’t even know when we’ve been a victim.
- Do we really want the government to create a shadowy and unaccountable secret police force that will trample on innocent citizens’ freedoms?
- To make matters worse the government is trying to push this law through parliament in record time without a proper debate – despite overwhelming opposition from privacy and security experts, and from a large majority of Canadians.
Do Canadians need laws to deal with terrorism?
Yes. But this law isn’t that bill. Canadians deserve laws that don’t surrender their rights while offering us the protection we need.
If you agree, you can consider adding your name to the 200,000 people who have spoken out against the bill here