#CyberFLASH: State has virtually unfettered access to eavesdrop on you

G3-Nov16-20

The question is no longer whether Big Brother is watching us. The question is how many of his sibling state agencies are covertly tuning into our private communications?

News last week that the RCMP and CSIS are apparently using a covert device to track cellphone users without judicial oversight came and went quietly. Is this a sign that Canadians have become used to living in a post-privacy woerld? Or that we are so fatigued by continuous revelations about state intrusions that we lack the energy to react?

Whatever the case, the upshot is that we have quietly acceded to a profound change in human communication patterns, one that has reaped the state an informational bonanza. Unless we engage in a national debate — and soon — the end of privacy may be upon us.

Just over 40 years ago Parliament gave us a rigorous wiretap law; elaborate mechanisms that live on as a legacy of an era when personal privacy was a prized civil liberty.

Digital data surveillance, in contrast, is an open plain of unrestrained opportunity for official snoopers. The state has virtually unfettered access to eavesdrop or read every single personal communication with no mechanism for accountability.

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