Andrew Coyne: Same old bill, new hysteria
Andrew Coyne Feb 20, 2012 – 8:03 PM ET | Last Updated: Feb 20, 2012 10:03 PM ET
When the Liberal government of Paul Martin introduced the Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act in November of 2005, it received comparatively little attention. As the columnist Thomas Walkom described it in the Toronto Star, the bill would require Internet and telephone companies “to install equipment that would allow the state to monitor all of their customers… [I]t would give police … the power to demand, without the need for court warrants, any information that [these] companies keep on their customers — including addresses, passwords and credit card information.” The public safety minister at the time, Anne McLellan, was quoted to the effect that the police needed the new powers to go after terrorists and child pornographers.
In other words, more or less the same legislation, supported by more or less the same arguments, as Bill C-30, whose purported horrors have convulsed the nation this past week. Yet it caused nothing like the same fuss. For that matter, neither did an earlier version of the current bill, C-52, introduced in the last Parliament: concern, yes, but not the all-consuming fireball that C-30 detonated.
None of this is to defend the legislation. Privacy advocates make a convincing case that it gives too many people too much personal information with too little justification. Neither am I arguing the Liberals are necessarily hypocrites to oppose it (though that’s certainly possible), or that their own sins cancel those of the bill: that other parties, and other countries — similar legislation is already on the books elsewhere — may have been willing to erode their citizens’ liberties in this way is not an argument for doing so in the present case, nor does the long list of surveillance powers to which Canadians are already subject make the case for adding another.
I’m just interested in the discrepancy. Why has this bill, this invasion of privacy, aroused such heated opposition, where others haven’t? When did we all become such civil libertarians?..................http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/201 ... rew-coyne/