Posts Tagged Privacy

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Explained Perfectly

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement mostly negotiated in secret by quite a few governments bordering the pacific ocean.  Canada has been a part of these negotiations and is committed to ratifying the treaty.  Both US presidential candidates are now on the record against this treaty, while current US president Barack Obama has vowed to ratify the treaty in his lame duck session of his second term.  So what exactly is the TPP?

I’ve come across a recently posted video on youtube that very clearly explains the TPP and concerns regarding the ratification of the treaty in the below video.  Warning that this video is also NSFW and contains strong language:

For those of you who want an in-depth policy and law look at the concerns of ratifying the TPP; Canadian Internet law expert Michael Geist has an excellent in depth series of blogs on quite a few concerns with ratifying the TPP for those of you who like your policy research. I’ll be writing my own series of blogs on the TPP in the coming months as well.

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Supreme Court Says Get Out of Our Data to Trudeau Government

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The Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal, Court Martial Appeal Court and Tax Court are preparing to take the Canadian government to task on ensuring independence from the federal government regarding its data.  Under the past conservative government, all these levels of the courts were to submit to a super-IT department as of September 1st of last year that would see all government services including Canadian courts using the same IT department.  The move by the last government to amalgamate IT services was seemingly to save money and streamline IT security.

According to the Supreme Court of Canada, one super IT department could threaten its independence from Government.  Briefing notes obtained by the Canadian Press last week, and provided to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau days after taking office, shows the courts are gearing up for a constitutional challenge on data independence.  The briefing stated:

“[The courts] must maintain control of their data, not only because of concerns about confidentiality, but also because an independent judiciary cannot tolerate having its sensitive information controlled by a separate branch of government.”

The briefing notes also warned that if the Government doesn’t backtrack on this soon, it could face legal action and likely a constitutional challenge by the top judges in Canada.  Advice given to Trudeau on how to handle this situation by his advisers was redacted in the briefing notes.

Prior to September 1st last year when these new IT rules came into play, top court officials wrote a letter to senior bureaucrats in the Conservative government demanding that agents of Parliament such as the Auditor General, Privacy Commissioner and Information Commissioner should be exempt from amalgamated IT services.  Yesterday, the new Liberal government went before the Supreme Court asking for a six month extension on right to die legislation.  Should the court deny that extension, this spat over IT services and data independence could end up being an interesting back story.

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Canadian Government Could Benefit From Town Hall Public Consultations on Anti-Terror Bill

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(Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale)

During the election the Liberals heard from Canadians on the new anti-terror bill C-51, and promised to repeal sections of this bill that are problematic. We still don’t know exactly which provisions will be repealed. This past Friday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale took to the airwaves stating that Canada must be a world leader in tackling radicalization.  During the last election the Liberals promised to reform the Conservatives Anti-Terror bill promising to consult with the public and experts.

In 2009 I took part in the Governments copyright consultations.  These consultations were held in town hall meetings with then Minister of Industry Tony Clement, and Heritage Minister at the time James Moore in a public forum.   These town hall meetings were open up to the public, and also encouraged the public to attend online.  There was also a forum set up by pollster Nic Nanos where people from across the country could air their concerns and debate those concerns in the forum setting regarding copyright legislation and digital rights.  What came out of this consultation process was a balanced approach to copyright law based on the views expressed during the consultation process. A made in Canada approach to public policy regarding copyright.In my opinion this was one of the crowning achievements of the last Government when it came to public policy consultation (a process which the Conservatives later abandoned), and there’s a significant need in the debate between civil liberties and security that demands this type of consultation.

Since the NSA leaks from former NSA system administrator Edward Snowden there has been lengthy and informal debates around the issues between civil liberties and security.  The Liberal platform during the last election promised evidence based approach to public policy, and widespread consultation with the public and experts on issues relating to the anti-terror bill.  What better way to do that, than using the previous Governments copyright consultation process as a benchmark in the debate around anti-terror and radicalization.

If we are to become a world leader in tackling radicalization, than government needs to hear from not just stakeholders, but the public as well.  The Liberals won the last election from what the polls suggested, not on the exclusivity of the Liberal platform and stance on the Conservatives anti-terror bill, but rather a vast majority looked to have voted strategically to overthrow Steven Harper’s Conservatives.  Canadians will be watching very closely to how the Liberals treat the anti-terror bill, and whether the current Government will take the time to consult broadly with the public, rather than using their elected mandate to ignore public concerns on the bill and shut them out of any consultation process.

If we are to become a world leader in tackling radicalization, we must also become a world leader in listening to public will, and working together to come up with solutions that are balanced and encompass a wide range of views.   Only then can other world leaders look upon Canada as a beaming example of how to get it right.  For Canada to become a world leader in tackling radicalization we must develop a balanced approach to policy.  In order to achieve that true balance, all Canadians should be broadly consulted in a more formal manner by Government.

 

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Did The Liberals Cave on Anti-Terror Bill C-51?

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From the Paris attacks to last week’s mass shootings in California, like many in the civilized world over the past month I’ve been trying to wrap my head around these attacks, and why under mass surveillance are they continuing to happen with greater frequency.

Last week the 42nd parliament resumed with no word or mention from the Liberal government in the throne speech on one of the parties biggest promises, which was to fix the Conservatives anti-terror bill C-51.  On this past Sunday, US President Barack Obama took to the airwaves from the oval office, and told Americans that with the build-up of the Russian military in Syria, that the US fight against ISIL will remain an intelligence gathering and special forces mission.  Could the Liberal government here in Canada be stalling on anti-terror reforms as a result of US pressure?

I recently watched an investigative report on ISIL’s recruitment of women in the UK.  The investigation took almost a year to complete. The report detailed one undercover Muslim women’s journey to seek out and try to get accepted into an ISIL cell.  After 3 weeks of baiting radicalized ideology exclusively and very openly on Twitter, she started getting re-tweets and reply’s back from known ISIL terrorists.  Within a few months, she was able to penetrate an ISIL supported cell in the UK and record with hidden cameras the meetings with other female ISIL supporters.

ISIL is using social media very openly on Twitter and Facebook to recruit people to their cause.  Obama stated in his oval office address that he expects social media companies to do more in dealing with radicalized individuals.  Twitter for its part in the UK investigative report started suspending radicalized accounts including the undercover journalist, which can be counterproductive to the intelligence community.  In Canada under our anti-terror law C-51 it is a crime to openly support ISIL.  This type of law makes our collection of targeted intelligence against ISIL that much harder, as those communications move from a public forum on the internet, to more private one making it that much harder for our law enforcement to track.  What the Conservative government did with C-51 is make Canada less secure.

Dealing with radicalized ideology very much needs to be countered.  The answer isn’t mass surveillance, its targeted surveillance. France for instance, has one of the world’s top intelligence agencies which specialize in Middle Eastern, and African intelligence.  Yet one cold November night Paris came under attack by radicalized ISIL supporters.  The problem is that there is too much information coming into our intelligence agencies as a result of mass surveillance, that these intelligence agencies miss what’s happening in plain view.  Many intelligence professionals took to the airwaves after the Paris attacks stating that mass surveillance is only useful after the fact, and not in preventing terror attacks.

How do we counter radicalized ideology?  You can’t counter someone’s belief systems with bombs and killing, you counter it with facts, and common sense.  Going back to that UK investigative report, what should have been done is that the Muslim leadership in the UK should be showing other investigative pieces as to what happens with women and girls once they are in ISIL controlled territories.  PBS did an excellent investigative piece on this.  Women and girls in ISIL controlled territories are continually raped, beaten and passed around like trading cards.  Those women that are often loured by the extreme ideology of ISIL, find themselves trapped in hell (not utopia) and are often wanting to flee for their lives.

Canada needs to be a leader in changing the conversation away from mass Internet surveillance to one that is targeted surveillance.  There is no need for C-51.  Laws before C-51 very much allow for this to already be done within the scope of the criminal code of Canada.  We need a national strategy that is inclusive among Canada’s Muslim community to deal with radicalization. The Liberals promised to base their positions on fact based policy making.  We’ve seen no indication from last week’s throne speech that will happen with C-51, and with the past months events in Paris and around the world, I think Canadians expected the anti-terror policy to be at the top of the Liberals policy agenda.  Instead it’s been excluded as a top priority, and was a top priority for the Liberals during the election.  I don’t think Canadians can expect meaningful reforms to C-51 in the future, if the US is pressuring for more mass surveillance.

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Conservative Party Hacking Into Facebook Accounts For Likes

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Has the Conservative Party of Canada hacked into your profile and “liked” their Facebook page on your behalf without your knowledge or consent?  Reports are popping up including  one from a reporter at the CBC that they are being “like hijacked” by the Conservative party.  According to a CBC report, the hijacked likes could be a result of embedded computer script in Facebook videos and links launching malware bought and paid for by the Conservatives.  The computer script could have the potential to reach deep into your personal profile.  When questioned on this, all the other parties denied that they are engaged in the activity of hijacking Facebook users accounts, however a Conservative spokesperson wouldn’t confirm or deny the party was behind the malicious hijacks.

In an e-mail to the CBC the Conservatives stated it was “an internal party issue.”  The Conservatives may be acting against their own anti-spam laws with respect to this, and if the Conservatives are hijacking Facebook users accounts, one has to question what other information has been collected by the Conservatives (if they have access to your account to like their page) that was transmitted to the party which could be very personal information the Conservatives might use to profile you as a potential voter, which also could be against Canadian privacy laws.

Whatever the case maybe, hacking into users Facebook accounts is not just extremely creepy and potentially illegal; it’s also a form of stalking and desperation by a party who is not very popular on social media and having trouble getting their message out. Liking any Facebook page will automatically show updates to that page in your news feed. Facebook users are encouraged to look at their “activity logs” to ensure there are no unwanted Conservative Party Facebook page “likes”.

More to come on the legal aspect of all of this soon.

 

 

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Senate Passes Anti-Terror Bill With Applause From Conservative Senators

Well folks the order of accountability seems to be the theme today, so I have to start by saying I was wrong.  I was wrong to believe in an institution that clearly can’t see past their own crackers, and gourmet meals. I was wrong to have hope that for once the red chamber would rise above the house of commons and display sober second thought.  I was wrong to believe that the Senate is looking to redeem itself from scandal, and I was wrong to believe accountability and civil liberties remain a core principle of the Conservative caucus.

The Senate passed the anti-terror bill with NO amendments with thunderous applause from the Conservative senators.  Final vote count: Yay, 44. Nay, 28. Abstentions, 0  It now receives royal assent, and is now the law of the land.  Passing the anti-terror bill with no amendments means the Senate beleives (counter to experts that testified) this law is constitutional.  More on the political fall out of the vote to come soon..

 

 

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Canadian Voters Put Senate on Notice Re: Bill C51 As NDP Surge In Polls

The latest polling numbers from EKOS are suggesting that the NDP is surging and the federal political race is now a statistical tie between all three parties.

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The major media networks are still refusing to acknowledge the backlash against the Liberal and Conservative parties due to their support for the new anti-terror bill.  These numbers are quite clear on how unpopular the anti-terror bill is with voters across the political spectrum. Huffington Post’s Althia Raj on the latest poll:

In a preliminary poll, EKOS said the NDP seemed to be gaining strength from college and university educated Canadians voters who played a critical factor in the Alberta election.

College and University educated Canadians typically vote Liberal.  A large portion of that group have been extremely vocal in opposition to the Conservative’s new anti-terror bill (which the Liberal party supported) over the past few weeks, which corresponds to the surge shown in this latest poll.

To further illustrate this point the National Posted stated:

The sharp uptake in the poll by the NDP is mirrored by a sudden drop in support for the Conservatives and Liberals, who have fought for the lead since Trudeau took the party’s reins.

These latest poll numbers should not only be of concern to the Liberals and Conservatives regarding the unpopular anti-terror bill, but they also serve notice to the Senate where the new anti-terror bill is currently being debated.  If this trend continues (and is likely too if the Senate passes the new anti-terror bill) Canadians will put the constitutionality of the red chamber into question in a big way.  The NDP have been very public about their policy to abolish the Senate, and are willing to open up the constitution and bring the Provinces in to do just that.

The Senate is supposed to be the “sober second thought” for parliament.  This means above everything, the Senate’s job is to protect the constitutional rights of Canadians in legislation.  The Senate in recent times has been neglecting this duty by passing Conservative legislation that is being constantly shut down by the Supreme Court on constitutional grounds.  It will be an easy sell to the Canadian public and those voters who are moving from the Conservative and Liberal base to the NDP, that the Senate isn’t doing its job to protect the rights of Canadians if they pass the new anti-terror bill.  The NDP can make the case very strongly with the new anti-terror bill that we shouldn’t use tax payers money to allow anyone to sit in this chamber, if their not doing their constitutional jobs.

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Justin Trudeau Throws Charter Under The Bus In Support of Anti-Terror

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau shocked many today announcing his party would put its full support behind the new anti-terror bill C-51 which was introduced last week.  Since last week there have been many experts that have come out extremely worried on how this bill would impact the charter rights of Canadians.

The bill includes provisions that will allow law enforcement to jail “suspects” up to a year in prison without trial or evidence.  The bill also allows for widespread mass surveillance of Canadians.  Evidence collected under this act would not be visible to any lawyer defending a suspect.  Furthermore the bill expands the no fly list to Canada.  Some may remember a Canadian women was denied entry to the US in recent years because she had a bout of depression some years back.  Her private medical information was shared with US officials even though she wasn’t considered a terrorist threat.

There has been widespread condemnation by many constitutional experts on this bill in media since its introduction. Some going as far to say the entire bill will be thrown out on constructional grounds the moment it’s used.

The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) has chimed in stating:

Bill C-51 would create “an unprecedented expansion of powers that will harm innocent Canadians and not increase public safety.”

In a release, it said it is alarmed by proposals that would expand the amount of time a terror suspect can be jailed without charge and that would allow judges to impose stringent conditions — including house arrest — on people who have not been convicted of any crime.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada (a former spy himself) is very concerned on the information sharing contained in this bill and stated:

This Act would seemingly allow departments and agencies to share the personal information of all individuals, including ordinary Canadians who may not be suspected of terrorist activities, for the purpose of detecting and identifying new security threats.

Mass surveillance hasn’t been proven to be effective in identifying new security threats in the past 14 years it’s been used in the US.  In fact the frequency of terror attacks in recent months around the globe point to mass surveillance as being a failed policy in preventing attacks.  In a large portion of these recent cases dating back to the Boston bombings, the suspects who carried out these attacks were dropped from surveillance, not because of existing law, because they were not deemed a threat to national security, and dismissed by law enforcement officials.

In an article the Canadian Press has released, Trudeau expresses his support in increased information sharing (which the privacy commissioner has come out strongly against),  and support for the provisions in this bill that would see suspects detained with no evidence or trail:

Trudeau said Liberals welcome measures to build on the powers of preventative arrest, expand the no-fly regime and enhance co-ordinated information sharing among government departments and agencies.

Moreover the decision to support the new anti-terror legislation also comes with the fear of Conservative attack ads painting the Liberal leader as soft on terror.  The Trudeau Liberals are seemingly ready to throw the rights of Canadians under the bus because they “might” get bullied for sticking up for those rights by the Conservatives.  That actually says a lot about a leader who on one hand champions the charter, while at the same time won’t stand up to bullies who are pushing it around.  Standing up for Canadians rights is not soft on terror.  It’s ensuring that the terrorists don’t win, and change our lifestyle to one of fear and oppression. I wonder how many times Trudeau Sr. was bulled when drafting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms politically.  That didn’t stop him.

With the Liberal party running for the exits on the rights of Canadians, the NDP still in limbo on this bill, and the Conservatives running virtually unopposed in dismantling our Charter rights in legislation, Canadians concerned about their democratic rights look to have very few political options in the coming election.

JK

Twitter: @jkoblovsky

Mind Bending Politics Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/mindbendingpoltics

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Canada’s Spies Go Rogue Days Before Anti-Terror Legislation

Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and NSA leaker Edward Snowden paint a picture of Canadian Spies ignoring the rule of law days before the Conservatives plan on announcing the anti-terror legislation.

Documents obtained through Snowden suggest that the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) cast a wide dragnet on anyone who downloaded files from file sharing sites Sendspace, Rapidshare, and Megaupload.  The documents confirm that CSE has been engaged in widespread mass surveillance of Canadians, rather than targeting specific national security threats.  The spy operation was codenamed “Levitation”.  Being an ex-music industry DJ, I’d often get legitimate promo material sent to me through these sites directly by the music labels, and artists themselves.  I would consider those communications to be private business communications that appear to have been intercepted by CSE in its mass surveillance dragnet. Privacy Lawyer David Fraser posted a blog on this today in which he stated that lawyers have also used these services to communicate with clients:

During the the time in question, I had clients who used these services to share large documents with me that are subject to solicitor client privilege. This data was swept up in their system and their assurances that they didn’t look at it offers me no comfort.

Fraser goes on to say:

Mass, suspicionless surveillance is not OK and has to stop.

This past summer the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that mass surveillance dragnets cast without a warrant, as the one being exposed through the Snowden documents are unconstitutional, regardless of what was looked at or not.  This mass surveillance dragnet shows that Canadian spies are not abiding by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Not only are Canadian Spies showing neglect for our constitutional rights, they are also showing neglect for the tax payer as well. Global News broke a story recently in which the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) which is another branch of the Canadian spy net, has been filing inappropriate expenses to Parliament.  Only now that media has reported on it, that Government is reviewing those costs.

With only days until the Conservative government gives more power to law enforcement and our spy agencies through anti-terror legislation; what assurances do Canadians have that these agencies will abide by the rule of law or the will of parliament?

JK

Twitter: @jkoblovsky

Mind Bending Politics Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/mindbendingpoltics

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Why Are Governments So Interested In Internet Poo?

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(Image: Tim Parkinson via Flickr/Creative Commons)

Over the past few months there has been a lot of talk in Canadian politics, and in fact in global politics around something called metadata. What is metadata? Well, it’s what your computer and smart devices spew out of there back end. Think of it as Internet poo.

What’s the difference between Internet poo and human poo. Both can be analyzed to find out if you have any health problems, and what you consume on a regular basis to profile you as an individual. However the major difference between internet poo, and human poo, is that internet poo can tell a lot more about you then the poo coming from your morning throne visit. Another major difference is that we don’t allow our government or anyone else to randomly walk into your bathroom and insist on a stool sample to ensure you haven’t done anything suspicious, or to determine if you have known terrorist markers in your DNA. We wouldn’t allow this for our morning bowl movements. To do so would violate fundamental human/constitutional rights. So why are governments around the world doing exactly that with your internet poo, and why are our Internet/telecom companies collecting and storing our poo to be analyzed to begin with?

Back a few months ago, our beloved Conservative MP’s here in Canada along with CSEC Canada’s spy agency stated that metadata is just data about data. Essentially what they said was poo is just poo, which is correct until it’s analyzed. Once collected/analyzed, your internet poo can tell a lot about you, from where you were over the course of a day, to what you ordered out last night, to what turns on you and how often. The collection of internet poo is essentially more violating to a person’s privacy than a government agent stationed outside your bathroom door permanently with a sample cup.  Shouldn’t our tax payers money be going to something like cleaning up our parks of dog poo.  Wouldn’t that be a more productive use of tax payers money?

Your poo is yours. Your data is yours, #youowntheinternet

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