TORONTO —Canadian technology entrepreneur Frederick Ghahramani is pledging $1,000,000 to fight Bill C-51, the newly enacted law that authorizes the government to collect and share Canadians' private information with no oversight. The money will go to front-line organizations leading the effort to repeal the legislation, including Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), who has launched a charter challenge against the bill, Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa (CIPPIC) and Openmedia, whose petition against the bill garnered almost 300,000 signatures. To demonstrate the arbitrary nature of the surveillance programs authorized by Bill C-51, Ghahramani is also challenging Stephen Harper to disclose his entire team's CSIS and CSE captured correspondences, data, and meta-data related to the recent media leaks surrounding the Syrian refugee crisis.
Ghahramani's personal objections to Bill C-51 stem from his experiences living as a child under the authoritative Iranian regime that arbitrarily recorded and surveilled every citizen's phone calls. The Canada to which he and his family fled embraced the freedom to think, speak, and do business without 24x7 government surveillance as a fundamental human right. Syrian refugees are leaving behind an oppressive regime which denies them such rights, and arriving in Canada at a time when the Harper government is beginning to eviscerate these same rights.
"Bill C-51 is bad for business, bad for democracy and bad for Canada. This legislation builds a dragnet on over 35,000,000 innocent Canadians, turning every single iPad, laptop and cell phone into a government recording device," said Ghahramani. "How can any Canadian CEO freely communicate with their board of directors or staff if sensitive insider information can now be seen by government employees with no checks or balances? How can our capital markets maintain a level playing field and avoid rampant insider trading and front-running if every single board room in Canada is now effectively bugged?"
Of the challenge to Stephen Harper on the bubbling Syrian refugee scandal Ghahramani said: "Let's see all the CSE and CSIS data and meta-data related to this scandal, who was emailed, what was said, who called who at what time, and who actually made the decision to delay processing Syrian refugees. If Harper and his staff have nothing to hide, let them surrender their privacy and rights just like the rest of us. Surely the Prime Minister holds himself to the same standards he expects of every Canadian.”
Many of Canada's top legal and privacy experts have opposed the implementation of Bill C-51 from its onset, including Daniel Therrien, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Information and Privacy Commissioners of every Canadian province and territory (except New Brunswick), and Michael Geist, University of Ottawa Law Professor, and holder of Canada's Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law. Canadian Business Leaders have also opposed the law.
"Anyone would find it difficult to invest in or purchase a technology company where the CEO could not guarantee that his intellectual property and trade secrets were not leaking out the back door beyond his control with no oversight," said former VC and current Canadian technology M&A advisor Brent Holliday, CEO and Founder of Garibaldi Capital Advisors. "But this is precisely the environment that Bill C-51 places Canadian technology companies. I am against any policy that harms the viability of Canadian technology companies that compete on a global playing field." Holliday was one of hundreds of Canadian business leaders who signed an open letter opposing Bill C-51 in the spring.
About Bill C-51
Bill C-51 authorizes the government to collect and share Canadians' private information, such as health records, tax records, business correspondences, internet browsing, search, and social networking histories, and even mobile phone records. Bill C-51 promulgates that such information may be freely shared amongst 17 government departments with no arm's length review or oversight, and that the government may “further disclose it to any person, for any purpose.” The law has been publically criticized and challenged by the Federal Privacy Commissioner, the Canadian Bar Association, the Privacy Commissioners of every Canadian Province (except New Brunswick), multiple Canadian Senators, over 60 Canadian CEO's and business leaders, and four former Canadian Prime Ministers (Joe Clark, Jean Chretien, John Turner, and Paul Martin).
About Frederick Ghahramani
Frederick Ghahramani is a Vancouver-based technology entrepreneur. Over the past 15 years, he has formed and invested in multiple start-ups predominantly in the telecom and software sector. Collectively Ghahramani's companies have scaled to over 100 million customers and generated sales in over 30 countries. He is a past recipient of the BDC's Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, and was the inaugural winner of the New Ventures BC Competition.
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