Everyone remembers that day of proverbial darkness when the information centre of our world, Wikipedia, shut down for 24 hours. The website blackout was to raise awareness about a bill going through American parliament called the Stop Online Piracy Act — SOPA, as it came to be known. The bill aimed to prevent Americans from accessing websites that contained pirated material. The breadth of the bill essentially gave the government the power to censor what Americans could see on the Internet and to force search engines to not link to flagged sites. The act was struck down because of massive public awareness campaigns by the likes of Wikipedia and Google, who acted to spread the word about the implications of SOPA.

The fight for Internet privacy and control is coming to Canada, and the question is, will we be so lucky? The Harper government has a majority in the House of Commons and Conservative Minister Vic Toews has made it clear that they intend to push a bill that will give the government power to intercept emails. The police would need a warrant to intercept e-mails but could obtain IP addresses, names and cell phone numbers at will. That information would also be freely available to national security agencies and the Competition Bureau. If this sounds troubling to you — and it should — consider the reaction to vocal opponent Liberal Party member Francis Scarpaleggia. After stating that the bill appears to be the government preparing to read Canadians' correspondence, Scarpaleggia was told that he could "either stand with us or with the child pornographers" by Public Safety Minister Toews.

The way that the Conservatives are framing this vote as being for or against child pornography is extremely problematic considering that it concerns collecting personal information on millions of Canadians. The Conservatives' paternalistic attitude is disgusting, and the fact that they list the bill as "An Act To Enact The Investigating And Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act And To Amend The Criminal Code And Other Acts" seems like an attempt to discourage public participation.

The reality is, with a 51 per cent voter turnout rate and a Conservative majority, the Tories can pass almost anything they want and Canadians won't even notice. The state of public participation in Canadian politics has been a growing problem in recent years but never has it been more important or more neglected. The individuals making decisions about this bill are supposed to be representing the majority opinion of Canadians. I personally don't want the police to be able to digitally stalk me and I believe that many people don't. Despite that, the individuals who have been elected to vote based on what the majority of people want will try to pass the bill whether or not we actually want it.

Call your MP. Ed Holder and Susan Truppe are Conservative MPs here in London and need to know your opinion! By no means do I think that the Conservatives are trying to turn into Big Brother, but on the other hand, if that sort of technology were in place, I'd hate for the Conservative Party to be in charge.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.