#CyberFLASH: Goodale to launch C-51 consultations on Thursday

ralph-goodalejpg-jpg-size-custom-crop-1086x784Opponents of the Harper government’s controversial national security legislation, C-51, will have the chance to officially voice their concerns to government starting Thursday, when Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale kicks off another round of consultations focused on Canada’s national security.

Goodale will make the announcement flanked by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould in Edmonton Thursday afternoon and it will make up the second part of a two-pronged review of Canada’s national security, the first of which launched last month with a focus on cyber security.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to fix “problematic elements” of C-51 during the 2015 election campaign, pledging to “guarantee that all Canadian Security Intelligence Service warrants respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; establish an all-party national security oversight committee; ensure that Canadians are not limited from lawful protests and advocacy; require that government review all appeals by Canadians on the no-fly list; narrow overly broad definitions, such as defining “terrorist propaganda” more clearly; limit Communications Security Establishment’s powers by requiring a warrant to engage in the surveillance of Canadians; require a statutory review of the full Anti-Terrorism Act after three years; and prioritize community outreach and counter-radicalization, by creating the Office of the Community Outreach and Counter-radicalization Coordinator.”

Several of those items are already ticked off or soon to be: the government announced its plan for a committee tasked with reviewing national security activities in June and has begun the process of launching an office to help individuals whose names match those of people flagged on the no-fly list.

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#CyberFLASH: How much do we really know about the Canadian intelligence community?

csis.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxLast year American whistle-blower Edward Snowden proclaimed that Canadian intelligence agencies have the “weakest oversight” in the Western world and compared the Canadian government’s Bill C-51 to George W. Bush’s post-9-11 U.S. Patriot Act.

Canada became a surveillance state under the Stephen Harper Conservatives. In 2014, for example, it came to light that the Government Operations Centre was monitoring residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, including Indigenous Peoples, residents of the Island’s west coast who opposed fracking, and fishermen who were protesting shrimp quotas. This ongoing problem is further complicated by multiple transnational intelligence sharing agreements, in place since World War II, that remain largely unknown to the general public.

Indeed, the rise of the surveillance state is a global phenomenon that cannot be separated from the rise of the internet. But in Canada, because of the lack of any credible oversight, it has played out in a very specific way. This has everything to do with what the Canadian public knows—and more importantly, does not know—about Canadian intelligence agencies.

Canada’s new and highly invasive so-called anti-terror legislation came into force last year with the support of then-Opposition Leader Justin Trudeau and the Liberal caucus. The Trudeau Liberals knew that in order to win the election they would need to undo—or at least promise to undo—much of the damage done by their predecessors. They would have to address the alienation felt by Canadians from having a government that used national security as an excuse to trade away its citizens’ freedom and civil liberties.

Unfortunately, they have yet to repeal or even reform Bill C-51, and recent terrorist attacks in Europe, the U.S, and here at home in Canada have provided the perfect backdrop against which to further delay the process. On August 10, for example Aaron Driver, a 24-year-old Canadian citizen who was allegedly plotting a terrorist attack in the southern Ontario town of Strathroy, died in a confrontation with police who were following up on a tip from the FBI.

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#CyberFLASH: Fined for not giving up phone password at border

160815_iy0oi_rci-cell-phone_sn635Canadian Alain Philippon was fined $500 for refusing to give border guards at an eastern Canadian airport the password to his cellphone. Philippon originally said he would fight the charge of hindering or obstructing border officials. But today his lawyer entered a guilty plea in court.

Constitutional protections exist, but…

Canadians would be wrong if they thought they did not have to give border guards their phone passwords because of guarantees in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Indeed Section 8 guarantees “the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.”

In fact, an individual has no obligation to give a cellphone password to police under the charter’s right to remain silent. And a police officer would need a warrant from a judge to search a personal computer or phone. But border guards are different.

‘A reduced expectation of privacy’ at borders

“When people are crossing the border, courts have long accepted that we have a reduced expectation of privacy,” said Josh Paterson, executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association to CBC news. “Custom agents are able to search our bags, are able to search our goods, see if we’re bringing things back over the limit if we have contraband, weaponry, these kinds of things.”

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#CyberFLASH: Want to Roll Back Bill C-51?

Surveillance_610pxIt’s clear Canadians are deeply unhappy with the way the federal government views the privacy rights of its citizens. Last week, Bill C-51 passed in the House of Commons. It’s now before the Senate and is expected to become law within weeks.

This is a piece of legislation so extreme that experts say it will lead to widespread violations of our charter rights.

Today, OpenMedia, which advocates for more Internet freedom, is launching a privacy plan aimed at rolling back Bill C-51, ending government-supported surveillance and restoring the privacy rights of Canadians.

The report, entitled Canada’s Privacy Plan, was the result of a crowd-sourced survey that gathered input from more that 100,000 Canadians. More than 10,000 of you used this crowdsourcing tool to provide detailed input on how you want to tackle our privacy deficit.

Bill C-51 has been widely criticized by Canadian civil liberties advocates. Among other things, it permits federal departments to exchange the private information of Canadians, and makes it easier for police to restrict the movement of suspects.

But Bill C-51 is just one aspect of the alarming privacy deficit the government has created. In the last 12 months, we’ve seen stunning revelations about how the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSE) — the agency that collects foreign security intelligence from the Internet — is spying on Canadians’ private online activities and on private emails that Canadians send to members of Parliament.

And we’ve seen Justice Minister Peter MacKay’s online spying Bill C-13 become law, despite opposition from 3 in 4 Canadians.

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