Canada's Bill C-51 And The Internet

2015-06-15 by Sara Stringer

Nuclear weapons once ruled warfare. They were an example of national strength, as well as tools of deterrence for countries that had them. Today, people of the world are facing different threats, and they are being fought on more than just military fronts.

The explosion of terrorism and religious radicalism worldwide has put civilians in danger like never before. While terrorism is fought on the front lines by soldiers that sacrifice their lives, people are now experiencing terror tactics coming into their homes. Terrorist organizations increased use of social media and the internet, has allowed them to recruit soldiers from all over the world, including countries from the western world, like Canada and the United States.

While the U.S. has passed legislation allowing for the increased data collection in the name of security, Canada is now in the process of passing a similar bill, C-51. This is being done in the name anti-terrorism, and increases the powers and responsibilities given to certain departments. In addition, it allows for more oversight of what is put on the internet and increased ability to prosecute those found in violation.

Unfortunately, some played down the bill, saying that it is an example of government censorship. Also, this bill may have serious effects on web hosting and those that use the internet in general.

What is Bill C-51?

This anti-terrorism bill attempts to fight growing threats of worldwide terrorism on more than just one front. This is taking into account organizational responsibilities and the movement of information via the internet.

There are basically five parts to this bill. The first part allows for the Canadian Government to share information with agencies that deal with threats of terrorism. The second part enacts the Secure Air and Travel Act; this allows for the minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to establish a list of possible terrorists, and have a plan in place if they try to fly. In addition, this part specifies the punishments for such offenses.

The third part of the bill regards the processes that take place once someone is charged with an act of terrorism. Among other things, it extends the criminal code, gives more power to the judge, and specifies the format of the court proceedings. The most important effect this part has is the ability for the government to take down anything on the internet that can be deemed terrorist propaganda, and bring charges against you.

Part 4 of the bill authorizes the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to take measures both “inside and outside of Canada” to thwart terrorist plots. Furthermore, it creates new policies for the service reporting their actions. Part 5 brings no new provisions, it just makes minor adjustments to the first part.

Some believe that this bill becoming law, will seriously affect the way that web hosters and consumers use the internet.

Web Hosting/ Consumer Effects

For those that oppose this bill one of the most troubling aspects is the language about taking down terrorist propaganda from websites. This is true especially for those that participate in web hosting. Web hosters make it possible for websites to function. They store all of the data on high tech computers that connects you to the internet. However, under the new bill, it would be the hoster’s responsibility to take down material that could be deemed terrorist propaganda. No problem, Right?

Unfortunately, the definition of terrorist propaganda is loose, and can be stretched to include groups that are protesting for reform, but are not terrorists. Those who do not comply, or have something considered propaganda on their site could be prosecuted for not being a terrorist.

This is creating fear that fewer providers will offer web hosting services, or those that do host will simply just comply with the new law instead of trying to figure out what is okay and what isn’t. Net neutrality proponents are crying out that the flow of information will be restricted by the new law. Fortunately, for the time being there is no shortage of web hosting providers. Services like iPage web hosting make it easy to set up a domain and manage your website. Additionally, some services offer free email service and free marketing.

This legislation comes at a time when security breaches have become a huge concern for consumers and businesses alike. Companies lose hundreds of dollars per every record lost, and consumers personal accounts can come under attack as well. The benefit of hosting services is the security of your information. Hosting services offer around the clock monitoring, and back your files up as many as three times. In addition most offer 24x7 customer support for any problems that arise. While many are claiming government censorship, this bill could actually help protect companies through stricter regulation of the internet.

It remains to be seen what effect this law will actually have on internet consumers. If the flow of information remains unchanged this will likely not affect the way that the internet is used. However, if the law is as strict as some believe it will be, the internet may not offer some information for fear of it being terrorist propaganda. Right now, people trust the information that comes from the internet, which may not be true forever.

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Sara Stringer

Sara is an author who covers a wide spectrum of topics.

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