News from ICLMG

Senate committee misses opportunity to protect rights in study of national security bill, C-59. Now Senate as a whole must act.

OTTAWA, ON, May 13, 2019 – The Senate committee on national security and defence has missed an important opportunity to protect fundamental rights and freedoms in Canada and internationally by failing to bring necessary amendments to the National Security Act, 2017 (Bill C-59).

Bill C-59 was passed by committee without substantial amendment today, despite calls from leading civil liberties and human rights groups, and hundreds of letters from the public.

“National security concerns cannot come at the cost of privacy, free expression, due process and government transparency,” said Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. “There was a missed opportunity today to address the most egregious aspects of this bill.”

The Liberal government has touted Bill C-59 as being a “fix” for the previous government’s controversial Bill C-51 (the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015). While it brings some important improvements, Bill C-59:

  • Continues to allow CSIS to engage in secret and dangerous threat disruption powers;
  • Maintains the secretive No Fly List, which violates due process and has never been proven to be effective;
  • Grants sweeping new surveillance powers to both the CSE and CSIS, including the collection of metadata, vaguely defined “publicly available information,” and the incredibly broad category of “unselected information” (which essentially means any information)
  • Fails to prohibit the use and sharing, in all circumstances, of information linked to mistreatment and torture;
  • Will allow the CSE to engage in broad and powerful new “active cyber operations” with little oversight, creating the risk of retaliation as well as attacks from leaked new cyber-weapons.

The provisions adopted by the committee today to reduce the number of years before review of Bill C-59, and which allow the Intelligence Commissioner to suggest conditions on surveillance authorizations, are welcome, but are severely insufficient.

The committee also had the opportunity to improve on the strongest part of the bill: new national security review and oversight bodies. The ICLMG has welcomed the proposed National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA), as well as the Intelligence Commissioner. Greater transparency, independence and the ability to make binding recommendations, as well as offer redress for complainants when abuse is found, though, are essential to ensure both accountability and that the public have faith in the review and oversight system being created.

Even if review and oversight were improved, though, it still would not make up for bad laws, warns the ICLMG. “The NSIRA and the Intelligence Commissioner will only be able to enforce the rules set out in Bill C-59. With new powers of surveillance and data collection, ongoing secretive activities, and the real threat to due process, free expression and privacy, these bodies risk simply becoming rubber stamps,” said McSorley.

The bill will now return to the full Senate for debate and vote at third reading. The ICLMG is urging senators to use this last opportunity to take a strong position in defending civil liberties and human rights in Canada and internationally, all while protecting the safety of people in Canada and abroad.

Take action and urge the Senate to protect our human rights and fix C-59

Read our more detailed recommendations and our full brief to the Senate.

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Read our National Coordinator’s live-tweeting thread of the meeting

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. Here at ICLMG, we are working very hard to protect and promote human rights and civil liberties in the context of the so-called “war on terror” in Canada. We do not receive any financial support from any federal, provincial or municipal governments or political parties.

You can become our patron on Patreon and get rewards in exchange for your support. You can give as little as $1/month (that’s only $12/year!) and you can unsubscribe at any time. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.panel-54141172-image-6fa93d06d6081076-320-320You can also make a one-time donation or donate monthly via Paypal by clicking on the button below. On the fence about giving? Check out our Achievements and Gains since we were created in 2002. Thank you for your generosity!
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ICLMG’s Senate testimony on Bill C-59, the National Security Act

On May 6, ICLMG’s National Coordinator, Tim McSorley, presented our main concerns to the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence on Bill C-59, the National Security Act, 2017. Some of them are:

1. C-59 empowers Canada’s national security agencies to engage in mass surveillance, including the mass collection and storage of our public information;

2. C-59 does not address the ongoing problems with the No Fly List, including the impossibility of an individual to effectively challenge their inclusion on the list;

3. C-59 would grant Canada’s signals intelligence agency, CSE, new powers to conduct cyberattacks, including hacking, deploying malware, and “disinformation campaigns.”

Take action and urge the Senate to protect our human rights and fix C-59

There are a LOT of issues with the bill but we had little time so you can read all about them and our **45** recommendations in our brief to the Senate.

Watch the full panel with our member Amnesty International Canada’s presentation and the Q&A with Senators.

If you prefer to read instead of watching/listening to a video, here are Tim’s speaking notes.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. Here at ICLMG, we are working very hard to protect and promote human rights and civil liberties in the context of the so-called “war on terror” in Canada. We do not receive any financial support from any federal, provincial or municipal governments or political parties.

You can become our patron on Patreon and get rewards in exchange for your support. You can give as little as $1/month (that’s only $12/year!) and you can unsubscribe at any time. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.panel-54141172-image-6fa93d06d6081076-320-320You can also make a one-time donation or donate monthly via Paypal by clicking on the button below. On the fence about giving? Check out our Achievements and Gains since we were created in 2002. Thank you for your generosity!
make-a-donation-button

ICLMG Brief on Bill C-59 to the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence

The National Security Act, 2017 (Bill C-59) has been making its way through the legislative process. Last year, we spoke to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety about some of our major concerns with the bill – and how the positive points could be improved.

While we were glad to see that some of our proposals were adopted, mainly regarding transparency and accountability, a lot still needs to be addressed. Watch our testimony at the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence on Monday, May 6th. We hope that senators take action and make some important changes in order to fix Bill C-59.

Take action urging Senators to fix Bill C-59
and protect our rights!

Brief to the Senate

We’ve written a condensed version of our analysis of Bill C-59 for the Senate committee (10 pages), and also updated our full brief on Bill C-59 (45 pages). You can read them here:

Summary of Recommendations

Part 1: The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency
While welcome, the new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) could be strengthened. Among other things, we recommend:
  • Increasing the number of members
  • Appointing NSIRA members through parliament and not through the Prime Minister
  • That the Agency be given binding powers
  • More precision and clarity in public reports
  • Greater accountability and transparency around how the agency will deal with public complaints
Part 1.1: Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment by Foreign Entities
Canada needs rules outlawing any and all complicity in mistreatment and torture, but unfortunately this new act does not do so. That’s why we recommend:
  • That the act be replaced by legislation outlawing any use or sharing of information that will make Canada and its government agencies complicit in foreign mistreatment or torture
  • Mandatory public, yearly reporting by departments on how they fulfilled this obligation, without undue vetting by government officials.
Part 2: The Intelligence Commissioner Act
The creation of the Intelligence Commissioner (IC) is also welcome, but needs serious strengthening, including:
  • Intelligence Commissioner appointments should be approved by a 2/3 vote in the House of Commons, and the position should be full-time
  • Increased public reporting and greater transparency in decision making (FIXED!)
  • Stronger powers to impose conditions on surveillance operations
  • Oversight of cyber operations
Part 3: The Communications Security Establishment Act
Our recommendations include:
  • Narrow the Communications Security Establishment’s (CSE) new cyber-operations mandate, and place greater restrictions and oversight on what cyber actions the CSE can take
  • Take action to further restrict the collection of Canadian and foreign data, and to prevent mass surveillance operations, for example by removing the collection of “unselected information”, which basically means any non-threat related information
  • Include a definition of metadata and restrict its collection and use
  • Restrict the definition, collection and use of “publicly available information”
  • Increase human rights safeguards when sharing information with other countries
Part 4: Amendments to the CSIS Act
Our recommendations include:
  • Eliminate disruption powers brought in with Bill C-51
  • Remove provisions granting broad immunity to CSIS agents to break Canadian law
  • Restrict CSIS’ new data collection powers and increase its oversight
  • Restrict the definition, collection, and use of publicly available information as CSIS datasets.
Part 5: The Security of Canada Information Disclosure Act
  • We recommend that SCISA, established with Bill C-51, be repealed in favour of new legislation to protect privacy and information that is shared for national security purposes.
  • Barring this, the definition of “activity that undermines the threat of Canada” must be narrowed, and there must be an actual exemption for artistic and political expression, which also protects Indigenous sovereignty, land claims and title rights.
Part 6: Amendments to the Secure Air Travel Act
Our recommendations include:
  • Establishing effective and transparent processes for listing, redress and appeals
  • Ultimately repealing the Secure Air Travel Act (brought in with Bill C-51) and ending the No Fly List program in general
Part 7: Amendments to the Criminal Code
We recommend:
  • Removing redundant “counselling terrorism offenses” provisions
  • Repealing the “Terrorist Entities Listing” process in favour of existing criminal code provisions
Part 9: Review
  • We recommend reducing the review period to five years for new oversight and review mechanisms and to three years for new CSIS and CSE powers.
What’s missing from Bill C-59
  • A strong review mechanism to look at the CBSA and its activities outside of national security.
  • A provision that puts an end to the security certificate regime.
  • A provision outlawing the use of the Tipoff US/Canada (or TUSCAN) database by Canadian border agents.
  • A provision outlawing the use of the US No-Fly List by airlines in Canada for flights that are not going to and/or through the US.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. Here at ICLMG, we are working very hard to protect and promote human rights and civil liberties in the context of the so-called “war on terror” in Canada. We do not receive any financial support from any federal, provincial or municipal governments or political parties.

You can become our patron on Patreon and get rewards in exchange for your support. You can give as little as $1/month (that’s only $12/year!) and you can unsubscribe at any time. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.panel-54141172-image-6fa93d06d6081076-320-320You can also make a one-time donation or donate monthly via Paypal by clicking on the button below. On the fence about giving? Check out our Achievements and Gains since we were created in 2002. Thank you for your generosity!
make-a-donation-button

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