#CyberFLASH: Red Deer men targeted by sextortion scam


RCMP are investigating an extortion scam after two Red Deer men were “lured into compromising online encounters” by strangers on the internet.

Police say both victims were approached online in October by women.

The women lured the men over the internet “and then threatened to post the images online unless they were paid by their victims,” Red Deer RCMP said in a news release Wednesday.

Neither victim was defrauded of money, police said. In both cases, the women halted communication with their targets after the men informed them they were reporting them to police.

RCMP suspect there may be even more cases of this type of extortion happening in the community, but victims “may be too embarrassed to report it.”

Furthermore, investigators say these online profiles are usually fake and the scammers live in different countries, making prosecution impossible.

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#CyberFLASH: Ottawa has little regard for protecting privacy rights when it comes to national security

1297658073661_ORIGINALOTTAWA — The federal government has scant regard for privacy rights when it comes to national security, according to the federal privacy commissioner’s new annual report.

Tabled in Parliament Tuesday, it reveals:

• Only two of the 17 departments and agencies with power collect personal information from other federal entities under the new Security of Canada Information Sharing Act (SCISA) believe privacy impact assessments (PIAs) are necessary. The assessments are designed ensure privacy protection is a core consideration and are required under government policy for any new or substantially modified government programs and activities involving personal information.

The act, created under the Anti-terrorism Act of 2015, formerly Bill C-51, allows 111 departments and agencies to share information, including citizens’ personal data, with 17 departments with national security responsibilities. The information must be “relevant” to the recipient’s jurisdiction in relation to “activities that undermine the security of Canada.” The intent is to persuade bureaucrats to share information so authorities can better connect the “dots” of potential national security threats.

The act has been used 110 times between Aug. 1, 2015, when it became law, and Jan. 31, by the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA), RCMP, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Global Affairs Canada.

When privacy concerns about SCISA were raised last spring as C-51 made its way through Parliament, then-public safety minister Steven Blaney attempted to placate critics by insisting PIAs would be the norm.

• Thirteen of the 17 departments and agencies with national security responsibilities collected or shared information under “very broad” pre-existing legal authorities, including common law, because the Conservative government did not create detailed new legal authorities spelling out permitted collection and disclosure of information for national security.

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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: What Aaron Driver means for the debate on amending Bill C-51

rcmp-terror-20160811The case of Aaron Driver, the ISIS sympathizer who was killed in Strathroy, Ont., on Wednesday, comes to the fore amid the outstanding question of federal anti-terror laws and the fate of Bill C-51, the former Conservative government’s controversial legislation of last year.

And on Thursday, the Conservatives spoke of both in nearly the same breath.

“I salute and thank the law enforcement and intelligence officers who put their own lives on the line to stop this potential attack on innocent Canadians,” interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose said in a statement distributed on Thursday morning.

“Unfortunately, the Liberal government campaigned on a promise to strip these officers of some of the essential investigative and enforcement tools to do this work, which the previous Conservative government provided through Bill C-51, and which have already been wisely used to disrupt terrorist activities nearly two dozen times since last fall. I call on the Liberal government to ensure all of Canada’s security and intelligence services keep the tools they need to do their jobs.”

On a very basic level, Driver’s fate might well factor into the general debate: a case of suspected terrorism informing a debate about how the law should be used to respond to the threat of terrorism. “This disturbing event serves to remind us that Canada is not immune to the threat of terrorism,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said on Thursday.

But on the particulars, it is unclear what precisely Driver’s case might have to do with C-51.

Liberal commitment to rewrite C-51

In bestowing new powers on law enforcement and national security agencies, C-51 raised various concerns about civil liberties.

In opposition at the time, the Liberals support the bill’s passage, but vowed they would amend the legislation if they were to form government.

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#CyberFLASH: CSE acting like it’s above the law

1297806634517_ORIGINALWhat the rest of the country calls accountability, Canada’s electronic spies, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), paints as a threat to security. It’s a tried and true tactic for intelligence agencies here and abroad when public scrutiny begins to stir.

According to the Star’s Alex Boutilier, Federal Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien is in a protracted battle with the CSE to make them comply with laws mandating the reporting of material privacy breaches by government agencies. Predictably, the CSE has played the national security card: they are above the laws everyone else follows because accountability could betray their methods to the nation’s adversaries.

The history of organizations in Canada that believe they are above the law is not a happy one for either citizens or the organizations themselves. Just ask the RCMP about its defunct Security Service. They were shut down after being discovered to have perpetrated a string of break-ins, acts of vandalism and other crimes out of fealty to the paranoid mission of the day during the early 1970s: defeating communism and separatism.

Doubtless, the Security Service probably wouldn’t have thought too much of meddlesome privacy commissioners either, especially if reporting requirements meant exposing the scale of its nefarious activities.

Indeed, scale has always been a sore point for the CSE, too. Perhaps the number and type of material privacy breaches is a distant but somewhat reasonable proxy for the magnitude of invasive surveillance ordinary Canadians are subjected to every day on the Internet by way of metadata collection programs.

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#CyberFLASH: Privacy watchdog to investigate RCMP over alleged ‘stingray’ cellphone surveillance

stingray.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxCanada’s privacy watchdog says it will investigate a privacy complaint about the alleged use of “stingrays” by the RCMP.

Office of the Privacy Commissioner spokesperson Valerie Lawton said the organization has opened an investigation into the RCMP’s refusal to admit whether or not it usesthe surveillance technology known as stingrays, formally called International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catchers.

During the course of an investigation, the privacy commissioner typically determines if any privacy laws have been broken and makes recommendations on future policy.

The complaint was filed by Laura Tribe, a digital rights specialist for free speech advocate OpenMedia, after she read a story in the Star about the RCMP’s refusal to answer questions about the devices.

“If these invasive technologies are not in use, then these agencies should have no problem confirming that their surveillance activities remain within the confines of the law. If these StingRay technologies are being used in Canada however, the public has a right to know,” said her complaint, filed in December.

The RCMP did not immediately return the Star’s request for comment.

The Mounties have remained tight-lipped about the tech, which mimics a cellphone tower and collects information such as identifying data, text messages and phone calls from people’s cellphones. The device casts a wide net that doesn’t distinguish between suspects in criminal cases and ordinary citizens.

In December, when the Star used the Access to Information Act to request policies related to the RCMP’s use of the technology, the RCMP wrote back that those records were exempt from disclosure. The OPP also wouldn’t comment on whether they used the devices.

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#CyberFLASH:​ BlackBerry skirts RCMP decryption claims in privacy defence

image-3BlackBerry has released a statement defending its core corporate and ethical principles, saying it has been focused on protecting customer privacy.

In a blog post, BlackBerry executive chairman and CEO John Chen highlighted that BlackBerry’s guiding principle has been about doing what is right for its customers, within legal and ethical boundaries.

“We have long been clear in our stance that tech companies as good corporate citizens should comply with reasonable lawful access requests. I have stated before that we are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good,” he said.

The statement released by Chen comes days after reports claiming the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) obtained BlackBerry’s master encryption key, which enabled the Canadian police to intercept and decrypt around 1 million messages used by BlackBerry’s proprietary messaging technology.

The court documents relating to a Montreal crime syndicate case revealed BlackBerry and cellular network Rogers cooperated with law enforcement.

While it’s unclear how RCMP gained access to BlackBerry’s encryption key, it is believed BlackBerry “facilitated the interception process”.

BlackBerry is long known to have used a master encryption key, used on every device to scramble messages. This gives the company access to all communications over its systems, and would permit it to hand over data to law enforcement when asked. But since the Edward Snowden revelations it was widely assumed that at least one of the Five Eyes governments colluding in mass surveillance — of which Canada is a member — had acquired the keys.

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#CyberFLASH: There Has Been a ‘Sea Change’ in Privacy Rights in Canada, Warns Watchdog


The man tasked with defending Canadians’ personal information, once decried as a government stooge, directly chastised the federal government over its efforts to track and surveil Canadians — and recommended that the new government put safeguards on how the government uses “big data” to spy on its citizens.

In his annual report, Daniel Therrien, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, looked at three pieces of legislation that “taken together, these initiatives have resulted in what can only be described as a sea change for privacy rights in Canada.”

The first, C-44, allows Canadian spies to operate abroad and gives them more ability to obtain information without disclosing its origins; C-13, which creates new legal authority for cops and public servants to obtain Canadians’ personal data without a warrant; and C-51, the anti-terrorism legislation that opens the door for wide new intelligence-gathering and sharing.

All three bills, which are now law, were introduced by the Conservatives, but supported by the Liberals.

The Liberals have said they will change aspects of C-51, but have said little about the other two pieces of legislation.

In his report, released last week, Therrien recommended fixes for each bill — that the government include language to prevent CSIS from obtaining and using data that has been obtained through torture; that the law be updated to clarify when police are allowed to obtain Canadians’ data from their internet or cellphone companies without a warrant; and that legislation be introduced to toughen protections for Canadians’ privacy when departments want to share their information.

C-51 especially raised the ire of the commissioner.

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