(Ottawa) Federal Minister of Public Safety says he is ready to work with parliamentarians to revise the Liberal government’s cybersecurity bill, after civil society groups and opposition MPs raised concerns in terms of transparency and accountability.
Marco Mendicino pointed out in a recent interview that the bill introduced last year in the Commons will give Canada the tools it needs to deal with the many online threats to national security.
The government wants to establish a framework to better protect systems vital to national security and give authorities new tools to respond to emerging dangers in cyberspace.
Under the bill, companies in the key sectors of financial institutions and telecommunications would be required to improve the cybersecurity of their system and report any computer attacks, or face penalties.
But several civil society groups wrote an open letter last fall asking the minister for changes to the bill. They felt that as it stands, the bill would undermine citizen privacy, corporate accountability and judicial transparency.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the International Civil Liberties Watch Coalition, the League for Rights and Freedoms and OpenMedia were among the groups that signed the open letter.
In an interview, Minister Mendicino maintained that his government is ready to cooperate in finding ways to “improve” the bill by finding the right balance between different issues.
The overall goal is to “put in place intelligent and prudent measures to guard against potential threats to our national security in cyberspace”, he explained.
During the bill’s second reading debate in the House of Commons, Conservative Public Safety Critic Raquel Dancho stressed the importance of protecting against cyberattacks given recent incidents in North America. , including the theft of personal information.
Butme Dancho also raised concerns expressed by civil rights groups and the private sector about the bill.
She said the Conservatives would seek support for the bill when it goes through parliamentary committee, but would be prepared to “withdraw their support immediately” if certain elements were not corrected.
“There are serious issues that need to be addressed and changes that need to be made,” she pleaded.
For his part, NDP MP Daniel Blaikie argued that Canadians are concerned about what is happening with their personal data stolen online by hackers, but that they do not want the government to be able to manage everything “in secret”. without making any report”.
“No one wants to sit idly by without knowing what is being done about it, and right now Canadians don’t know what the federal government is doing to tackle this problem,” he said.