30 Cyber Surveillance


The policing of gender online is both individual and systemic, and is of paramount concern to most Internet users. In October 2014, the Canadian Parliament passed Bill C-13: Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, a bill touted as a defence against cyber-bullying. In short, anyone who posts or transmits an “intimate image” of another individual without that person's consent could face up to 5 years in prison. Bill C-13 also enables greater police powers: Internet Service Providers may be forced to hand over customer information without a warrant. In Canada, in recent years, 9 telecommunications companies received approximately 1.2 million requests from federal law enforcement agencies for private customer information every year.


The advent of the information age and the spread of Internet connectivity opened a new, albeit virtual, frontier. An era in which the gender barrier could be breached and more egalitarian social relations could be forged appeared on the not-so-distant horizon. Life on the screen promised the malleability of identity—the self-construction of the self.