The Battle-Line between Cyber Libertarians and Cyber Cops

08/06/2014 - event: 19 June 2014 at 11:00

News image


Dr. Barry Cartwright will present on the changing face of Canadian Cyber Laws on Thursday 19 June 2014 at 11am (room to be confirmed).

Register to attend here.


This presentation contemplates two recent legislative initiatives by the Canadian federal government—both intended to meet the challenges posed by the rapid expansion of cyberspace and the concomitant increase in cybercrime—and the debate between “cyber libertarians” and “cyber cops” that has been set in motion by these legislative initiatives.

The first piece of legislation, the Copyright Act of 2012, revamped Canadian copyright law in an effort to address copyright issues in cyberspace. The legislation introduced concepts such as digital networks, digital memory, digital copies and digital locks, clarified the liability of ISPs, and broadened the definitions of telecommunication, publication, public performances and performer rights. It enabled courts to award statutory damages ranging from $100 to $5,000 for non-commercial copyright infringement and $500 to $20,000 for commercial copyright infringement, and required ISPs to provide copyright holders with the electronic location of individuals or commercial enterprises who had engaged in copyright infringement.

The second piece of legislation, known as Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, is presently before parliament. The thrust of Bill C-13 is to update the Canadian Criminal Code and the Canada Evidence Act, creating a number of new criminal code offences,  including “sexting;” manufacturing, importing, possessing or selling devices designed to facilitate theft of telecommunications signals; obtaining or intercepting a computer service; gaining unlawful access to a computer system; and recording, storing and disseminating child pornography or hate propaganda.

The proposed legislative changes would create a new series of indictable offences, some carrying potential sentences of between two and ten years of imprisonment. It would also enable judges to issue warrants to seize digital publications, representations or recordings of intimate images, and to order the deletion of intimate images and hate propaganda.

These recent legislative initiatives have been endorsed enthusiastically by politicians, police and other government officials, who argue that greater policing and enforcement powers are necessary to deal properly with new variants of cybercrime, or old variants of crime that have migrated to cyberspace. On the other hand, these initiatives have met with scepticism and dismay on the part of cyber libertarians and the denizens of cyberspace, who view the Internet as an intellectual commons, and advocate for a “hands off” approach.   

Brief Biography         

Dr. Barry Cartwright is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University, and a member of the university’s International CyberCrime Research Centre. His areas of interest include cyber-research, cyberbullying, and digital copyright law. Details here.

The seminar has been organised in collaboration with Dr George R S Weir, Department of Computer & Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde.

[Read More]

Associated people

William Buchanan
Director of CDCS
+44 131 455 2759
Electronic information now plays a vital role in almost every aspect of our daily lives. So the need for a secure and trustworthy online infrastructure is more important than ever. without it, not only the growth of the internet but our personal interactions and the economy itself could be at risk.