CIPPIC Joins Civil Society Groups in Stop Cyber Spying Week Protests

| April 18, 2012

CIPPIC, alongside a broad coalition of U.S. and Canadian civil society groups, is participating in a week long protest against online spying in the name of cybersecurity. 'Stop Cyber Spying Week' is a response to the impending legislative enactment of a U.S. cybersecurity strategy that is excessively overbroad and will have serious implications for online privacy and expression. 

The development of an invasive U.S. cybersecurity strategy will have direct implications for Canadian civil liberties. We have, for one thing, committed to a 'Beyond the Borders' Initiative that seeks to harmonize Canada-United States approaches to a number of security issues, including cybersecurity. This means that a U.S. cybersecurity strategy adopted today may well become a Canadian cybersecurity strategy tomorrow. A comprehensive report published by the Rideau Institute in late 2011 suggests that the 'Shared Vision' espoused by the Canada-United States Initiative is very likely to involve a compromise on Canadian privacy. A Resolution issued last week by all of Canada's Federal/Provincial Privacy Commissioners expressed similar concern that programs adopted under the Initiative will lead to an unnecessary and unjustifiable loss of privacy for Canadians. All this does not bode well for Canadian privacy (or sovereignty) in general, but at the same time it makes the current U.S. cybersecurity debate particularly relevant to Canadians!

The primary focus of the protest -- CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing & Protection Act of 2011) will grant Internet intermediaries (ISPs, social networking sites, blog hosting sites, etc) almost limitless immunities from existing laws to facilitate the monitoring and subsequent disclosure of user information to the Government. Its dangers lie in its broad-ranging immunities and vague definisions ('cybersecurity' itself is currently defined as including protection of intellectual property!). The U.S. cybersecurity strategy also envisions Internet intermediary immunity for protective 'countermeasures' that could facilitate and legitimize website blocking, filtering and even (potentially) traffic management and spyware.

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