Anti-cyberbullying bill could harm privacy rights, Amanda Todd's mother warns
Published Tuesday, May 13, 2014 2:28PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 13, 2014 7:08PM EDT
The mother of a B.C. teen who died of suicide after being tormented online told a federal justice committee Tuesday that proposed anti-cyberbullying legislation doesn’t do enough to protect the privacy rights of Canadians.
Carol Todd, whose 15-year-old daughter Amanda Todd died in 2012, was in Ottawa to speak before the Commons Justice committee about Bill C-13, also known as the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act.
Todd said she was “troubled” by portions of the bill, telling the committee that parents shouldn’t have to “sacrifice” their children’s privacy rights to make them safe from “cyberbullying, ‘sextortion’ and revenge pornography.”
“We should not have to choose between privacy and our safety,” Todd said.
The proposed bill, introduced last November, would make the non-consensual distribution of intimate images a criminal offence, and it would give law enforcement new tools to investigate the distribution of images as well as probe evidence on the Internet.
But some have warned that C-13 would allow organizations to disclose personal information without a court order. The disclosures would also be kept secret from the people whose information is being shared.
Todd said she was “troubled” by the provisions that condone “the sharing of Canadians’ privacy information without proper legal process.”
"I don't want to see our children ... victimized again by losing privacy rights," she said.
Todd told CTV’s Power Play Tuesday afternoon that she is not against the bill, but would like clarification on certain clauses, including the ones related court orders.
“They say that a warrant will be issued by a judge, so at what level are we going to ask for a warrant?” she said. “There has to be criteria.”
NDP MP Francoise Boivin said she is concerned that the legislation, if passed, could be subject to a court challenge over privacy matters. She suggested the more controversial aspects of the bill should be removed.
But Justice Minister Peter MacKay said that without “the ability to pre-emptively prevent online crime” it won’t be effective in saving the lives of potential victims.
“The reality is that this bill is aimed at enabling police to more actively pursue online investigations for cyberbullying, but (also) for other forms of cybercrime,” he told reporters.
Other parents of high-profile cyberbullying victims also appeared before the committee, including Glen Canning, the father of Nova Scotia teen Rehtaeh Parsons.
Canning voiced support for the proposed legislation, saying it allows law enforcers to protect potential cyberbullying victims.
“It seems so out of place to complain about privacy while our children openly terrorize each other to death for ‘likes’ on Facebook,” Canning said.
“I respect privacy as much as any Canadian … however, I believe Bill C-13 is not about an invasion of privacy, it’s about allowing police officers to effectively address the many challenges of instant mass communication and abuse.”
With files from The Canadian Press