#CyberFLASH: Another reason to resist C-51: Canada’s invasive financial war on terror

numbersA recent run-of-the-mill telemarketing call from one of Canada’s largest credit companies took on a threatening tone. Who knew that owning a credit card whose purchases produced redeemable points for free groceries also entailed an insidious trade-off that invaded our privacy and left a chilling aftertaste?

Informed that failure to answer certain questions would result in forfeiture of the card, I resigned myself to 10 minutes of wasted time and, following the usual gobbledygook about disclosure, was asked if anyone in my immediate and extended family had ever “held one of the following offices or positions in or on behalf of a foreign country: a head of state or government; a member of the executive council of government or member of a legislature; a deputy minister (or equivalent); an ambassador or an ambassador’s attaché or counsellor; a military general (or higher rank); a president of a state-owned company or bank; a head of a government agency; a judge; or a leader or president of a political party in a legislature.”

The question was chilling, for though I could honestly answer no, whose business was it to ask? It concerned me that immigrants might be flagged if they answered affirmatively, and perhaps asked further questions about their relationship to, for example, overseas political parties that the Canadian government deemed unsavoury.

Recovering my composure, I asked to speak with a supervisor, who informed me that “like any financial institution in Canada we are required by law to collect this information,” and that the answers would have no effect on my credit rating. If that were the case, I pressed, why were they asking these personal questions, and with whom were they sharing the answers?

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