Feds gave telecom firms unfair sneak peek at lawful access bill: Geist

Did the feds give Canada’s telecom companies a privileged sneak peek at Ottawa’s new Internet surveillance bill so they could basically shape the legislation into a law they could stomach?

Prolific legal blogger Michael Geist thinks so.

In his latest TorontoStar column, Geist says the major Canadiantelecom providers – that’d include Bell Canada, Cogeco, Rogers andthelike – formed “a secret working group” on lawful access months beforethe rest of the world was granted details about Bill C-30.

Even before that group was formed, the feds worked closely with thetelecom firms to give them early warning of the bill’s content so thecompanies could pinpoint their specific concerns well ahead of otherstakeholders, Geist writes.

“The close cooperation between the government and telecom providers hascreated a two-tier approach to Internet surveillance policy, grantingprivileged access and information for telecom providers,” Geist writes.

“Meanwhile, privacy and civil society groups,opposition MPs andmillions of interested Canadians are kept in the dark about the fullextent of the government’s plans,” he blogs.  

Geist believes the telecom firms have been largely silent on thelawful acess bill so far because they already knew exactly what wascoming their way — courtesy of the early look they were given by thefeds.

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