#CyberFLASH: Rise of the surveillance state

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We have entered an age in which our conceptions of privacy and confidentiality are being redefined. Internet technologies such as email and the World Wide Web have made global communication easier, cheaper and faster than at any point in the history of civilization, but these technologies come with inherent privacy risks: Tools such as social media have blurred the lines between what is personal and what is public.

Our online activities leave digital breadcrumbs that show who we talk to, and when and where we talk to them. There is an appetite among law-enforcement agencies for access to that information, and the technology used to gather and analyze this data is becoming ever more powerful. While surveillance is sometimes necessary, we must strike a balance between the needs of law enforcement and the privacy expectations of Canadians.

Democratic governments around the world are passing laws that give law-enforcement agencies greater access to online information. The government of Australia is currently debating legislation that would give its national security agency sweeping powers to access information about its citizens’ use of the Internet.

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