Business letter against anti-terror Bill C-51

Discussion on Bill C-51, Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015

2015.03.14.Ottawa-C51-146crMore than 60 CEOs, business owners and company presidents have signed an April 21 open letter calling on the government to scrap Bill C-51, the daily newsbulletin Renewal Update reports.

The letter points out, among other things, the history of U.S. intelligence agencies conducting espionage against foreign companies, with Canadian collusion and complicity. It points out that reports of Canadian intelligence’s predatory spying on trading partners has already had negative implications for business. The letter also raises the possibility that Bill C-51 will give the Communications Security Establishment (CSE or CSEC) a mandate to act within Canada, and describes its known practices. The essence of the letter is that Bill C-51 and the lawlessness of the government is bringing disrepute to Canada and causing chaos that does nothing to make Canadians safer.

The letter reads, in part:

“Many have spoken of the impact that Bill C-51 will have on Canadians in their everyday lives, so let us speak to the business impacts. We work with international clients, and we fear that this proposed legislation will undermine international trust in Canada’s technology sector, thereby stifling the kinds of business our respective technology companies can generate when that level of trust is high.

“We believe that, despite the rising tide of the knowledge economy, this legislation threatens to undermine Canada’s reputation and change our business climate for the worse:

“First, we must not allow censorship to become commonplace. Bill C-51 provides too much leeway for the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) to take unjustified actions against our businesses, including the takedown of websites. As it stands, C-51 criminalizes language in excessively broad terms that may place the authors of innocent tweets and the operators of online platforms such as Facebook, and Twitter, along with Canada’s Hootsuite and Slack, at risk of criminal sanction for activities carried out on their sites. The Bill further empowers CSIS to take unspecified and open-ended ‘measures’, which may include the overt takedown of multi-use websites or other communications networks with or without any judicial supervision.

“We understand that harmful activity can occur online, however Canadian law already prohibits hate speech and promotion of criminal offences. This legislation proposes unnecessary and excessive speech prohibitions which, as Professors Forcese and Roach have pointed out, “contains no defences for legitimate expression of political or religious thought.” Taking down websites without these safeguards can unduly impact our ability to do business and commerce.

“Second, we believe that Bill C-51 will effectively grant the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), which is empowered to assist CSIS, an implicit offensive mandate to act within Canada. There is little sober second thought in the new open-ended world of covert action that C-51 creates for CSE. New CSE digital disruption activities can include measures such as the false attribution of disreputable content to individuals, and even planting of malware on individual computing devices.

“We are already concerned about the negative impact the activities of CSE and CSIS, including reports of spying on our trading partners, have had on Canada’s reputation. The impact of these new rules could collapse the necessary distance between investigative and executional powers. This distance should be increased, not done away with.

“Furthermore, Bill C-51 leads to expanded powers to detain or revoke travel for people on the Specified Persons list. We need to rethink the fundamental problems with the “false positives” on this list, and instead address this flawed process. Travel to and from Canada is a necessity for international trade.

“Most importantly, we ask for data security. We know that many of our clients, including our government, will only host services in Canada because of the invasive privacy issues in the U.S. The U.S. tech industry has already lost billions in revenue because of this, and we don’t want it to happen here.

“We also know that the U.S. National Security Agency has been targeting Canadian businesses, including Rogers and Royal Bank of Canada, with the full knowledge of the CSE and our government. We can’t even get a clear understanding of the details, due to the lack of independent oversight of our spy agencies.

“The data disclosures on innocent Canadians and those traveling to Canada for business or recreation, could make our clients leave us for European shores, where privacy is valued. Duplicated data flowing between multiple unsecured federal government and foreign government databases leaves Canadians and Canadian businesses even more open to being victimized by data breaches, cyber criminals and identify theft.

“Even without the increasingly permissive data disclosure practices enabled by C-51, federal government agencies have seen over 3000 breaches of the highly sensitive private information of an estimated 750,000 innocent Canadians in recent years. More than 200 Canadians have come forward in recent months to say their personal or professional lives have been ruined, due to information disclosures, despite never having broken the law. As it is we have a privacy deficit in Canada that erodes trust in both commerce and trade — Bill C-51 deepens that deficit. ‘

“These are serious issues for us in business. Bill C-51 does not make us safer, and will impact our business. Can we afford to be left behind in the growing arena of the global technology marketplace? We are aware the government has admitted the bill is flawed and plans some minor amendments to C51. The amendments do not adequately address the underlying concerns set out above.

“Why rush this legislation when there are so many reasons to rethink the approach? Why not establish effective Parliamentary oversight on par with our global counterparts? Why not establish a Royal Commission into the general state of digital privacy protection in Canada and get this right? Our values are too important to rush such an important decision.

“We agree with the over 198,000 Canadians who have called on the government to scrap this reckless, dangerous and ineffective legislation through the petition at:

Update as of May 5, 2015

Media coverage included Michael Litt, founder of Vidyard, on Global TV
The video has been view over 40,000 times on Facebook here.
Nearly a hundred new businesses have signed since publication, from local bakeries to leading tech companies like PayFirma. is continuing to collecting signatures and updating here:

Signatories include

Ryan Holmes, Founder and CEO, HootSuite Media Inc.
Stewart Butterfield, President & Co-founder, Slack Technologies Inc.
Tobi Lütke, CEO, Shopify Inc.
Tim Bray, Principal, Textuality Services, Inc. (Co-founder of OpenText, and former employee of Sun Microsystems and Google)
Ryan Dochuk, Co-founder, TunnelBear Inc.
Will Anderson, CEO, PPM 2000 Inc.
Luke Aulin, CEO, RTOWN Communications Inc.
Marc Baumgartner, Founder, Codename Design
Jeff Booth, CEO, Technologies Inc.
Chris Breikss, President, 6S Marketing Inc.
Matt Buie, Financial Advisor, Assante Capital Management Ltd.
Graeme Bunton, Manager, Public Policy, Tucows Inc.
Frank Christiaens, Managing Partner, CrossPacific Capital Partners
David Crow, Co-Founder, StartupNorth
Mo Dhaliwal, Director of Strategy, Skyrocket Digital Inc.
Phillip Djwa, President and CEO, Agentic Digital Media
Lindsay Eason, Co-Founder, GreenStep Solutions Inc.
Dan Eisenhardt, Founder & CEO, Recon Instruments
Lee Feldman, Founder & Partner, THNK School of Creative Leadership
Jim Fletcher, Director , Vision Critical Inc.
Mike Gifford, President, OpenConcept Consulting Inc.
Michael Goodman, President, Tri City Capital Corp.
John F. Gray, Co-founder/CEO, Mentionmapp
Daryl Hatton, CEO,
Colleen Hardwick, CEO, PlaceSpeak Inc.
Mack Hardy, President, Affinity Bridge Consulting Ltd.
Gideon Hayden, Senior Associate, OMERS Ventures
Peter Henry, CEO, GrowthLogic Inc.
Brent Holliday, Founder & CEO, Garibaldi Capital Advisors Ltd.
Robert Humpleby, Owner, R.H. Services
Amir Javidan, SVP Operations, Tio Networks Corp.
Aiyana Kane, Owner/Operator, Bandidas Taqueria Restaurant
Kevin Kimsa, Managing Director, OMERS Ventures
Chad Kohalyk, Customer Experience, Predicative Inc.
Richard Lau, Co-Founder,
Glyn Lewis, Co-Founder, New Mode Consulting Inc.
Michael Litt, CEO, Vidyard
James Lochrie, CPO, Wave Accounting Inc.
Adam Lorant, Partner , Magellan Angel Partners
Tara Mahoney, Creative Director, Gen Why Media
Boris Mann, Managing Partner, Full Stack Foundry GP
Colin Mansell, Managing Partner, Drive Digital Inc.
Susan McLennan, President, Reimagine PR Inc.
Qasim Mohammad, Analyst, OMERS Ventures
Jennifer North, President, North Accounting Services Inc.
Rick Perreault, Co-Founder & CEO, Unbounce Marketing Solutions Inc.
Dennis Pilarinos, CEO, BuddyBuild
M Hassan Rahim, Managing and Relations Partner, MRKS Media
Andrew Reid, Founder – President, Vision Critical Communications Inc.
Steve Rio, CEO, Briteweb Inc.
Danny Robinson, Founder/CEO, Perch Communications Inc.
Steve Rogoschewsky , CEP, BlackSun Inc.
John Ruffolo, CEO, OMERS Ventures

Tony Seed, President, New Media Services Inc.
Kirk Simpson, CEO, Wave Accounting Inc.
Joel Solomon, Chairman, Renewal Funds
Josh Stuart, President, cStreet Campaigns Inc.
Michael Tippett, Founder, wantoo
Matt Toner, President, Zeros 2 Heroes Media Inc.
Ray Walia, CEO, Launch Academy Inc.
Boris Wertz, Founding Partner, Version One Ventures

**Add your name using the form (click here) below the footnotes.

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