#CyberFLASH: ‘We can’t protect public from cyber crimes': RCMP boss

n-ONLINE-PRIVACY-largeSpeaking to a security and defence industry conference in Ottawa, Paulson said an explosion in Internet crime, combined with laws restricting police online criminal investigations, means people should avoid the Internet or enter it knowing the potential risks.

“Your safety, your family’s safety, your financial integrity is at risk and so we need to start having the conversation now” about giving police reasonable, new and warrantless powers to collect evidence – often personal information – from online sources, such as basic subscriber data from telecommunication companies, he said.

“Because fundamentally, ladies and gentlemen, it’s hard to keep people safe on the Internet right now. The best advice we can give people is, ‘Don’t go (on the Internet),’ which is not really working, or ‘If you go, be really, really, really careful.’

“And if something bad happens, hopefully we’ll be able to help you, but there’s no guarantee.”

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#CyberFLASH: CSIS operations under C-51 raise accountability concerns

image-3OTTAWA — Internal government notes say the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is likely to team up with “trusted allies,” such as the American CIA and Britain’s MI6, on overseas operations to derail threats — plans that underscore concerns about CSIS accountability under new security legislation.

The omnibus bill known as C-51 allows CSIS to engage in joint “disruption” efforts abroad — including covert actions that break foreign laws — something the spy service previously had no authority to do, according to the government notes.

“In the international context, CSIS would likely first seek avenues to work jointly with partners in the local jurisdiction or trusted allies before engaging in independent action,” the notes say.

“In the past, CSIS has been invited to participate in joint operations abroad to disrupt threats or to provide assistance to allies, but has had no mandate to do so.”

CSIS’s new threat disruption mandate — perhaps the most contentious element of the legislation that received royal assent in June — could include surreptitious meddling with websites, cancelling airline reservations, disabling a car or myriad other schemes.

The spy service would be allowed to engage in disruption activities that violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as long as a judge sanctions them, a measure critics say perverts the role of the judiciary.

CSIS would co-ordinate threat disruption activity with other agencies such as the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency and Foreign Affairs, and could use its statutory mandate to enlist the technical expertise of the Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s electronic spy agency, the government notes say.

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#CyberFLASH: Privacy, telecom competition among Trudeau’s tech policy priorities

geist.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxDigital policies may not have played a significant role in the just-concluded national election, but the arrival of a majority Liberal government will leave many expecting “real change” on the digital front in the years ahead.

Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau is likely to focus on key economic promises from his platform once Parliament resumes. However, there will be several digital issues that should command attention during his first 12 months in office.

Bill C-51

The Liberals voted for the controversial anti-terror law, but the party promised changes to it if elected.

In particular, it pledged to establish an all-party review mechanism similar to those found in many other countries that will bring Members of Parliament into the oversight process. Moreover, the Liberals promised to increase the powers of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and add a mandatory three-year review provision to the law, suggesting that the current government may both start and end its term in office with reviews of the anti-terror legislation.

While Bill C-51 has been Canada’s hot button privacy issue since its introduction last January, the new government will also have a chance to quickly put its stamp on other privacy issues. This could include issuing a strong endorsement of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Spencer decision on the reasonable expectation of privacy in Internet subscriber information by committing to stopping warrantless access to such data.

The Trans Pacific Partnership

The TPP emerged as an election issue late in the campaign after the 12 member countries reached an agreement-in-principle on a deal that could have a major impact on the Canadian economy. The TPP involves far more than just the elimination of tariff barriers, since it requires reforms such as an extension in the term of copyright, new Internet takedown requirements, and restrictions on domestic privacy protections.

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#CyberFLASH: Tech founder puts up cash to put the brakes to Bill C-51

c51protest610pxTORONTO – A Vancouver-based entrepreneur who has earmarked $1 million of his own fortune to combating the Harper government’s controversial anti-terrorism bill said the laws dredge up unsettling memories of the totalitarian regime he fled as a child.

Frederick Ghahramani said the sweeping surveillance measures contained in Bill C-51 undermine some of the central Canadian principles that prompted his family to relocate from Iran in 1985.

A desire to uphold those values, coupled with concern for the bill’s effect on the Canadian economy, have prompted him to offer financial support to organizations intent on overturning the bill.

Ghahramani has already contributed $100,000 to Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, the University of Ottawa’s Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic and OpenMedia, adding he plans to determine how best to spend the remaining $900,000 after Monday’s general election.

The bill has garnered minimal discussion during the 11-week campaign, he said, adding that it was this lack of dialog that prompted him to stand up for what he sees as core Canadian values.

He recalled a childhood of frequent admonitions to watch what he said on the phone for fear of someone listening in, and said life in Canada offered an escape from such thinking. Newcomers to the country today, he said, may not find the same respite.

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#CyberFLASH: Researchers to study big data collection used on Canadians

91910728A group of prominent researchers has signed on to study what information is being collected about Canadians and what it’s being used for, saying the public remains largely in the dark on the mass accumulation of personal data.

The five-year project, which will be led by the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., will examine the use of what’s known as “big data.”

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association, University of Victoria and B.C.’s privacy commissioner are among the organizations that have joined the project as partners.

Micheal Vonn, the civil liberties association’s policy director, said Tuesday that big data consists of massive, complex data sets. The decisions made from such data, she said, can adversely affect individual rights and threaten privacy – though much about the collection of the data and its use is unknown.

“Big-data surveillance is one of the leading human-rights issues of the 21st century,” Ms. Vonn said in an interview.

Among other things, she said, the project will examine how organizations track individuals’ activities and social media use.

“We have one stream that is devoted to looking at big data in the context of national security. Another stream is devoted to what’s called marketing, but will also include things that many people don’t see in marketing, like … political parties’ databases and how they go about targeting the electorate,” she said.

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#CyberFLASH: Canadians taking to spying on their spies

spy_eye_648Comment As Canadians settle in for the longest general election campaign since 1867, some uncomfortable incidents that had been ignored by commercial media outlets are gaining new exposure.

Allegations that Canadian spooks are spying on protesters have become a hot topic online. The result is that Canada’s online civil liberties movements are starting to gain traction offline, and are threatening to go mainstream.

To understand the events, some background is required. A number of pipeline projects are proposed or undergoing construction to increase the amount of oil that can be sent from Alberta west to the coast of British Columbia via pipeline. Current pipelines are at capacity and shipping the oil to the coast by train is a fantastically dumb idea because the trains keep derailing, causing all manner of havoc.

A veritable who’s who of Canadian protest and civil liberties groups became active in protesting against the pipelines, both online and off. It dragged on for years, and protests are still ongoing.

Information emerged that said one of Canada’s spy agencies – Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) – allegedly spied on the protesters and then allegedly illegally shared information about the protesters with the National Energy Board (NEB). NEB is the government entity tasked with overseeing environmentally sensitive projects such as oil pipelines.

The NEB succumbed to industry capture years ago and now blatantly operates as nothing more than an extension of the energy companies themselves.

The reason everyone is freaking out about spooks spying on protesters is because bill C-51 – Canada’s version of the US Patriot Act or the UK Snooper’s Charter – gives the government the right to have protesters declared terrorists. Once declared a terrorist, for all intents and purposes one no longer has rights.

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#CyberFLASH: There’s a Secret Hearing Into Allegations Canada Illegally Spied on Environmental Activists

gavel-stock-image-2A federal watchdog committee is set to begin a round of secret hearings to probe complaints that Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, has been illegally snooping on environmental activists working against oil pipeline projects.

In 2014 the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) filed two complaints against CSIS and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) accusing both agencies of spying on environmental and First Nations groups who were organizing against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, which would carry crude west from Alberta to BC. The groups allegedly subjected to surveillance include the Sierra Club of BC, the Dogwood Initiative, and ForestEthics Advocacy.

“This kind of activity, what’s being alleged, has no place in democracy. The government and its spy agencies should not be busy surveilling and gathering intelligences on citizenships who are simply living their lives and participating in their communities,” Josh Paterson, BCCLA’s executive director, told VICE News. “There are plenty of undemocratic countries where governments spy on people they don’t agree with. And Canada should not be one of them.”

The BCCLA’s complaints, based on government documents obtained under access to information requests, further allege the spy agency also shared their intelligence about “radicalized environmentalist” groups with the National Energy Board.

CSIS has long denied the BCCLA’s allegations. “CSIS investigates — and advises government on — threats to national security, and that does not include peaceful protest and dissent,” a CSIS spokesperson told the CBC last year.

New federal anti-terror legislation, known as Bill C-51, that recently came into force gives CSIS more powers to probe and disrupt extremist activities and has raised further worries that environmental and aboriginal groups in Canada could be subjected to more surveillance than ever before.

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#CyberFLASH: Election could shine spotlight on digital issues: Geist

Local Input~ FOR NATIONAL POST USE ONLY - NO POSTMEDIA - Hacker using laptop. Lots of digits on the computer screen. Credit fotolia.Media reports indicate that Canadians may officially find themselves in an election campaign by the end of the weekend. With the actual vote still eleven weeks away, the long campaign will provide numerous opportunities to contrast the various political parties on key issues such as economic policy, security, ethics, the environment, and health care.

Digital policies will also deserve some time in the spotlight. Topping the list of concerns include the post-Bill C-51 landscape, support for the Trans Pacific Partnership, and the prospect of a Digital Canada 3.0.

1. Bill C-51 and what comes next

Bill C-51, the controversial anti-terrorism bill, emerged as one of the biggest political issues of the year, with thousands of Canadians protesting against legislation they viewed as excessively restrictive of their privacy and civil rights. The bill passed in June, but not before all three major parties adopted distinct positions. The Conservatives unsurprisingly supported their plan with few amendments, the NDP offered the strongest opposition, and the Liberals voted for the bill but promised changes if elected.

Those positions open the door to a robust debate on what comes next. The Liberals have committed to repealing elements of Bill C-51, but leaving some of it untouched. What would an NDP government do? With a Conservative-backed Senate committee recently proposing additional reforms, do the Conservatives view Bill C-51 as the end or the beginning of legal changes to combat terrorism?

On top of Bill C-51 and its aftermath, the Edward Snowden surveillance revelations still loom large. The government has largely avoided discussing Canada’s role in global Internet surveillance activities even as other countries have eliminated some programs and beefed up oversight in response to public concern. A clear position from each party on Canadian network surveillance activities is long overdue.

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