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Letter: Feds sneaking through bill on copyright
To the editor:
I would like to call attention to a piece of legislation that is being hustled through our Canadian Parliament right now. Known as Bill C-8, it contains pieces the same as ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement).
This is a bill that is receiving very little public debate and you might wonder why. Turns out, all of Europe voted this down after global outcry, the Americans are pressuring Canada to adopt it and it might affect you.
It is being paired with an anti-counterfeiting bill, which no one would want to vote against. That would be like voting against safety. However, the piece in question is the second part of the bill. It deals with copyright issues and gives sweeping powers to the CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency) to seize materials they may judge to not comply with the legislation.
CBSA has recently been handed a $143 million budget cut from the federal government, so it seems an odd time to be asking these individuals to be making decisions on people crossing into Canada with potential copyright violations.
You’re probably wondering how this might affect you. Well, these border guards, with no additional training, will be in a position to check all of your electronic devices you might be travelling with for copyrighted materials. So, your phone, tablet/pad, laptop and e-reader all could be subject to search for materials that you would need to prove you have permission to possess.
The implications of this might mean these items are seized until you can prove you actually bought the CD that music came from, or the book that you’re enjoying on your e-reader. Our rights to privacy could be arbitrarily breached using this legislation by someone with no technical knowledge of copyright infringement. Worse, you could wind up with a criminal record for a movie you downloaded to your tablet for your kids to watch while on the plane.
This bill is being discussed, in secret in Parliament now, without anyone with expertise in this area allowed to contribute.
This is not a law that would protect victims from exploitation. And there is already legislation in place to punish counterfeiters. So why is this being pushed through Parliament with little debate and at a time when we are all busy with holidays?
I have written to Prime Minister Harper and Industry Minister James Moore to ask these questions.
It sounds like this bill needs more debate and the Canadian public need more details before we allow ourselves to be subject to additional searches, potential criminal charges and less personal privacy at the border.
And if you’re hoping to get an electronic device under the tree this Christmas and ever want to travel with it, you might want to ask, too.