(For immediate release --- Wednesday, April 23, 1997)

Private Member's Anti-Internet Bill a Cynical Ploy

Chris Axworthy (NDP), a veteran M.P. from Saskatoon, has introduced a private member's Bill C-396 which requires Internet service providers to be licenced. With an upcoming election, this bill has essentially no chance of passing - a good thing, since it is certainly unconstitutional. It's also a cynical ploy to court votes from an uneducated public on a hot-button issue - child pornography - say the founders of Electronic Frontier Canada, Canada's premier organization devoted to the preservation of civil liberties in cyberspace.

"You don't need a licence to own and operate a typewriter, a photocopier, or a printing press", said David Jones, president of Electronic Frontier Canada, "and neither should you need one to be an Internet service provider". Jones expressed his concerns in a stern letter to Axworthy, sent earlier today.

Axworthy's bill would give the Minister of Justice broad and unprecedented powers to regulate freedom of expression and freedom of the press, ostensibly to control child pornography. Tax dollars would be wasted on a large bureaucratic structure to fight a problem that is already being dealt with.

"Media hype has dramatically overstated the amount of child pornography on the Internet", said Jeffrey Shallit, Vice-President of Electronic Frontier Canada and an associate professor of computer science at the University of Waterloo. "We don't need a big new bureaucracy to deal with child porn on the Internet; existing laws are perfectly capable of dealing with the problem."

"It's just a cynical ploy to get votes", said Shallit. "This bill has absolutely no chance of passing, with an election expected to be called in less than a week. It's a sad way to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

Founded in 1994, Electronic Frontier Canada is a Canadian nonprofit corporation with hundreds of members drawn from all Canadian provinces and territories. EFC is devoted to the protection of the rights enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as new communications technologies are introduced into Canadian society.


Related Documents:

Bill C-396
This controversial private member's bill was introduced in the House of Commons on April 8, 1997.

Letter to Chris Axworthy, Member of Parliament, Saskatoon, April 23, 1997
David Jones, President, Electronic Frontier Canada

EFC Contact Information:

Electronic Frontier Canada

Dr. David Jones, djones@efc.ca
phone: (905) 525-9140 ext.24689, fax: (905) 546-9995
Dr. Jeffrey Shallit, shallit@efc.ca
phone: (519) 888-4804, fax: (519) 885-1208
Dr. Richard Rosenberg, rosen@efc.ca
phone: (604) 822-4142, fax: (604) 822-5485

Electronic Frontier Canada's, online archives:
URL: http://www.efc.ca

Contact Information:

The Honourable Mr. Chris Axworthy (NDP)
Member of Parliament, Saskatoon
addr: House of Commons, 274 Wellington Bldg, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A OA6
addr: 505 23rd Street East, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7K 4K7
email: axworc0@parl.gc.ca
web: http://www.ndp.ca/bios/bio_axworthy.html
phone: (613) 325-2600, fax: (613) 943-2010, (Ottawa)
phone: (306) 975-6555, fax: (306) 244-9945, (Saskatoon)

The Honourable Mr. Elwin Hermanson (Reform)
Member of Parliament, Saskatoon
(competing incumbent for new federal riding)
email: hermanson@reform.ca or hermae@parl.gc.ca
web: http://www.reform.ca/hermanson/
phone: (613) 996-0920, fax: (613) 947-4871
phone: (306) 859-4522, fax: 859-4525