The watcher

Tabatha Southey questions the Internet surveillance portion of the government’s promised omnibus crime bill.

Imagine that, because you’re pressed for time, you take a cab to the library. The cab driver is obliged by law to install a device that will monitor where he takes you. While in the cab, you call your friend to talk about your day. The phone company is obliged to track whom you talk to and for how long. At the library, you speak to a librarian, who jots down your query, because legally he must. He directs you to a specific shelf, and notes that too; each book you open will be recorded as well. Later, you see a film. The theatre notes which one, as it has to….

Most Canadians would be outraged about this situation, unless someone explained to them that all these actions – the visiting, conversing, research, commerce and movie watching – were conducted on the Internet. Substitute search engines for libraries and cabs, and telecommunications companies for the theatre, and lots of people quiet down.