Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Tweets about Toews sharpen privacy debate
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews had his personal life splashed across Twitter Tuesday as part of a counterstrike by someone opposed to a bill he introduced to force Internet service providers to give police information about their clients without a warrant.
Someone identified as "vikileaks30" started a Twitter account and began posting details from the court file of Toews’ divorce from his former wife, Lorraine Fehr.
"Vic wants to know about you. Let's get to know about Vic," reads the first tweet.
More than three dozen followed, quoting mostly, it appears, an affidavit from Fehr in which intimate details about their marriage are laid bare.
Toews is under fire this week by privacy activists and opposition MPs over a bill he introduced Tuesday. The bill, given the short title, the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, will require Internet service providers to give police basic subscriber information about their clients, such as names, addresses, email addresses and IP addresses.
Toews insists the legislation gives nobody access to emails or websites people visit without a warrant. It’s instead forcing companies to reveal six pieces of information about who people are that police need in order to get a warrant in the first place, Toews said in a news conference this morning.
About 94 per cent of requests by police to Internet service providers are already granted. The government wants to get the other six per cent.
Privacy watchdogs, however, fear this is an unwarranted intrusion into Canadians’ personal privacy and want the government to drop the warrantless access provision of the legislation.
The person behind the Vikileaks account – a name obviously playing on Wikileaks – has not been identified.
The account was quickly noted by Twitter users who commented on or retweeted the comments.
Toews initially seemed to get support from Liberal MP Justin Trudeau who tweeted "want to express my support for @ToewsVic. The invasion of his privacy that @vikileaks30 represents is reprehensible. #LPCdefendsPrivacy"
But a few hours later Trudeau then added: "Just to reiterate my condemnation of @vikileaks30 (that's @vikileaks30) for being meanies towards the always nice and reasonable @ToewsVic."
The latter tweet seems clearly to be tongue in cheek.
Toews' office didn't know about the feed before being contacted by Postmedia News Wednesday afternoon. Through a spokesman, Toews wouldn't respond to any of the tweets about his personal life.
"I won't get involved in this kind of gutter politics," Toews said in an emailed statement. "Engaging in or responding to this kind of discussion leads nowhere."
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