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Law, Privacy and Surveillance in Canada in the Post-Snowden Era

Michel Geist

Part III: Reforms and Accountability

Chapter VIII. Why Watching the Watchers Isn’t Enough: Canadian Surveillance Law in the Post-Snowden Era

Michael Geist

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Months of surveillance-related leaks from US whistle-blower Edward Snowden have fuelled an international debate over privacy, spying, and Internet surveillance. The leaks have painted a picture of ubiquitous surveillance that captures “all the signals all the time,” sweeping up billions of phone calls, texts, e-mails, and Internet activity with dragnet-style efficiency.

In the United States, the issue has emerged as a political concern, leading to promises from US President Barack Obama to more carefully circumscribe the scope of US surveillance programs.1 Moreover, US telecom and Internet companies have also responded to political and customer pressure. Verizon2 and AT&T,3 two US telecom giants, have begun issuing regular transparency reports on the number of law enforcement requests they receive for customer information. The telecom transparency reports come following a similar trend from leading Internet companies such as Google, Twitter, Microsoft, and Facebook.

While ...


Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa, where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law. He has obtained a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees from Cambridge University in the UK and Columbia Law School in New York, and a Doctorate in Law (J.S.D.) from Columbia Law School. Dr. Geist is a syndicated columnist on technology law issues, with his regular column appearing in the Toronto Star and the Hill Times. Dr. Geist serves on many boards, including the CANARIE Board of Directors, the Canadian Legal Information Institute Board of Directors, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority Board of Directors, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation Advisory Board. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the Kroeger Award for Policy Leadership and the Public Knowledge IP3 Award in 2010, the Les Fowlie Award for Intellectual Freedom from the Ontario Library Association in 2009, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award in 2008, CANARIE’s IWAY Public Leadership Award for his contribution to the development of the Internet in Canada, and he was named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2003

© Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa | University of Ottawa Press, 2015

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