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Old 01-19-2010, 07:21 PM   #1
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Exclamation Privacy commish - It is my duty to present a solemn and urgent warning ..



to every Member of Parliament and Senator, and indeed to every Canadian:

Quote:

JAn 2003

It is my duty, in this Annual Report, to present a solemn and urgent warning to every Member of Parliament and Senator, and indeed to every Canadian:

The fundamental human right of privacy in Canada is under assault as never before. Unless the Government of Canada is quickly dissuaded from its present course by Parliamentary action and public insistence, we are on a path that may well lead to the permanent loss not only of privacy rights that we take for granted but also of important elements of freedom as we now know it.

We face this risk because of the implications, both individual and cumulative, of a series of initiatives that the Government has mounted or is actively moving toward. These initiatives are set against the backdrop of September 11, and anti-terrorism is their purported rationale. But the aspects that present the greatest threat to privacy either have nothing at all to do with anti-terrorism, or they present no credible promise of effectively enhancing security.

The Government is, quite simply, using September 11 as an excuse for new collections and uses of personal information about all of us Canadians that cannot be justified by the requirements of anti-terrorism and that, indeed, have no place in a free and democratic society.

As of the date this Report went to press, January 17, the Government has shown no willingness to modify these initiatives in response to privacy concerns. Whether the Government's awareness of the imminence of this Report will have brought about any change by the time the Report is tabled, I cannot foresee.

I wish to emphasize at the outset that I have never once raised privacy objections against a single actual anti-terrorist security measure. Indeed, I have stated repeatedly ever since September 11 that I would never seek as Privacy Commissioner to stand in the way of any measures that might be legitimately necessary to enhance security against terrorism, even if they involved some new intrusion or limitation on privacy.

I have objected only to the extension of purported anti-terrorism measures to additional purposes completely unrelated to anti-terrorism, or to intrusions on privacy whose relevance or necessity with regard to anti-terrorism has not been in any way demonstrated. And still the Government is turning a resolutely deaf ear.

Specifically, I am referring to: the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency's new "Big Brother" passenger database; the provisions of section 4.82 of Bill C-17; dramatically enhanced state powers to monitor our communications, as set out in the "Lawful Access" consultation paper; a national ID card with biometric identifiers, as advanced by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Denis Coderre; and the Government's support of precedent-setting video surveillance of public streets by the RCMP.

These initiatives are all cause for deep concern because of the intrusions on privacy that they directly entail. But they are even more disturbing because of the thresholds they cross and the doors they open. Each of these measures establishes a devastatingly dangerous new principle of acceptable privacy invasion.

The CCRA's database introduces the creation of personal information dossiers on all law-abiding citizens for a wide variety of investigative purposes. Section 4.82 of Bill C-17 requires, for the first time, de facto mandatory self-identification to the police for general law enforcement. The "Lawful Access" paper advocates the widespread monitoring of our communications activities and reading habits.

A national ID card would remove our right to anonymity in our day-to-day lives. The RCMP's video surveillance constitutes systematic observation of citizens by the police as we go about our law-abiding business on public streets.

These are not abstract or theoretical concerns. If these measures are allowed to go forward and the privacy-invasive principles they represent are accepted, there is a very real prospect that before long our lives here in Canada will look like this:
  • All our travels outside Canada will be systematically recorded, tracked and analyzed for signs of anything that the Government might find suspicious or undesirable. "Big Brother" dossiers of personal information about every law-abiding Canadian - initially travel information, but eventually supplemented by who knows what else - will be kept by the federal Government and will be available to virtually every federal department and agency, just in case they are ever handy to use against us.

  • Any time we travel within Canada, we will have to identify ourselves to police so that their computers can check whether we are wanted for anything or are otherwise of interest to the state.

  • Police and security will be able to access records of every e-mail we send and every cellular phone call we make. Information on what we read on the Internet, every Web site and page we visit, will likewise be readily available to government authorities.

  • We will all be fingerprinted or retina-scanned by the Government. This biometric information will be on compulsory national ID cards that will open the way to being stopped in the streets by police and required to identify ourselves on demand.

  • Our movements through the public streets will be relentlessly observed through proliferating police video surveillance cameras. Eventually, these cameras will likely be linked to biometric face-recognition technologies that will match our on-screen images to file photos - from such sources as drivers' licences, passports or ID cards - and enable the police to identify us by name and address as we go about our law-abiding business in the streets.
    I am well aware that these scenarios are likely to sound, to most people, like alarmist exaggeration. Certainly, the society I am describing bears no relation to the Canada we know. But anyone who is inclined to dismiss the risks out of hand should pause first to consider that the privacy-invasive measures already being implemented or developed right now would have been considered unthinkable in our country just a short year ago.

I am not predicting that all this will necessarily happen. But I am warning with all the intensity at my disposal that, in each instance, once the principle has been accepted and the precedent has been established, further intrusions on privacy are only a matter of degree. That makes them virtually inevitable.


http://www.priv.gc.ca/information/ar/02_04_10_e.cfm
the rest is on that site. super long read, but so worth it.
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Old 01-19-2010, 07:34 PM   #2
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Quote:
The place to stop unjustified intrusions on a fundamental human right such as privacy is right at the outset, at the very first attempt to enter where the state has no business treading. Otherwise, the terrain will have been conceded, and the battle lost.

Consequently, if the Government's current initiatives are allowed to go forward, there is a very real risk that privacy as we know it will soon become a distant, irretrievable memory.

The situation is made all the more worrisome by the fact that the Government is doing all this in blatant, open and repeated disregard of the concerns that it is my duty to express as the Officer of Parliament mandated to oversee and defend the privacy rights of all Canadians.

This disregard threatens the privacy rights of Canadians not only directly through the intrusive measures in question, but also indirectly by undermining the whole edifice of privacy protection that has been in place in this country for nearly two decades.

Regrettably, this Government has lost its moral compass with regard to the fundamental human right of privacy.

It appears to have become convinced that privacy must be sacrificed bit by bit, day by day, in pursuit of greater goods: reassuring a public frightened by the outrages of September 11; mollifying an insistent U.S. government; meeting the wishes of police, security forces and other Government institutions that have recognized the aftermath of September 11 as an opportunity to expand their powers.

As well, the Government has become inappropriately willing to brush aside all criticism of its assault on privacy rights, apparently regarding such criticism as simply a cost of doing business. This criticism has come not only from me in the exercise of my mandate from Parliament to oversee and defend the privacy rights of Canadians, but also from a great many others who have publicly endorsed my concerns. These include seven provincial and territorial Information and Privacy Commissioners from across Canada, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, the Ligue des droits et libertés, Electronic Frontier Canada, the Commonwealth Centre for e-Governance, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, and the Manitoba Association of Rights and Liberties.

In the nearly 20-year history of privacy protection since the position of Privacy Commissioner was created under the Privacy Act in 1983, a convention has been established that when the Privacy Commissioner points out that a practice or an initiative is inconsistent with privacy rights, the Government pays heed.

That's the way the system is supposed to work. I am an ombudsman, mandated by Parliament, whose role with regard to the federal Government is normally carried out primarily through persuasion and co-operative discussion behind the scenes. Like my predecessors, that is the way I have sought to operate since my appointment. I have recommended to ministers and senior Government officials specific solutions to enable them to achieve their legitimate policy objectives in ways that are more respectful of privacy rights. This has produced many successful outcomes which, by the very nature of the process, do not come publicly to light.

But in its approach to the aftermath of September 11, the Government has increasingly been turning its back on the cooperative nature of the federal privacy protection system by flatly refusing to pay attention. In each of the instances where I have been obliged to publicly criticize the Government for failing to respect the privacy rights of Canadians, it was only after I had first made every effort to persuade the minister responsible with carefully reasoned arguments and had my expressions of concern ignored or brushed aside.

Now I am informing Parliament that there is every appearance that governmental disregard for crucially important privacy rights is moving beyond isolated instances and becoming systematic. This puts a fundamental right of every Canadian profoundly at risk. It is a trend that urgently needs to be reversed.

If the Government can, with impunity and without provoking the strongest response from Parliament, simply brush aside the Privacy Commissioner's warnings and do as it pleases, then privacy protection in this country will be progressively weakened, and worse and worse intrusions will be inevitable.

In the months immediately following September 11, I was in fact quite optimistic that, with regard to privacy, the Government was on the whole being balanced and thoughtful in its response. But now the floodgates appear to have burst.

Now "September 11" is invoked as a kind of magic incantation to stifle debate, disparage critical analysis and persuade us that we live in a suddenly new world where the old rules cannot apply.

If Parliament and the public at large have been slow to react, it is probably because for most people, most of the time, privacy is a pretty abstract concept. Like our health, it's something we tend not to think about until we lose it - and then discover that our lives have been very unpleasantly, and perhaps irretrievably, altered.

But though we tend to take it for granted, privacy - the right to control access to ourselves and to personal information about us - is at the very core of our lives. It is a fundamental human right precisely because it is an innate human need, an essential condition of our freedom, our dignity and our sense of well-being.

If someone intrudes on our privacy - by peering into our home, going through the personal things in our office desk, reading over our shoulder on a bus or airplane, or eavesdropping on our conversation - we feel uncomfortable, even violated.

Imagine, then, how we will feel if it becomes routine for bureaucrats, police officers and other agents of the state to paw through all the details of our lives: where and when we travel, and with whom; who are the friends and acquaintances with whom we have telephone conversations or e-mail correspondence; what we are interested in reading or researching; where we like to go and what we like to do.

A popular response is: "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."

By that reasoning, of course, we shouldn't mind if the police were free to come into our homes at any time just to look around, if all our telephone conversations were monitored, if all our mail were read, if all the protections developed over centuries were swept away. It's only a difference of degree from the intrusions already being implemented or considered.

The truth is that we all do have something to hide, not because it's criminal or even shameful, but simply because it's private. We carefully calibrate what we reveal about ourselves to others. Most of us are only willing to have a few things known about us by a stranger, more by an acquaintance, and the most by a very close friend or a romantic partner. The right not to be known against our will - indeed, the right to be anonymous except when we choose to identify ourselves - is at the very core of human dignity, autonomy and freedom.

If we allow the state to sweep away the normal walls of privacy that protect the details of our lives, we will consign ourselves psychologically to living in a fishbowl. Even if we suffered no other specific harm as a result, that alone would profoundly change how we feel. Anyone who has lived in a totalitarian society can attest that what often felt most oppressive was precisely the lack of privacy.

But there also will be tangible, specific harm.

The more information government compiles about us, the more of it will be wrong. That's simply a fact of life.

Several years ago, after the existence of Human Resources Development Canada's "Longitudinal Labour Force File" was brought to light by my predecessor, many people demanded to see the information that had been held about them. They were astonished by the number of factual errors. That was only a research database, so its inaccuracies probably would have remained relatively benign even if it had not been dismantled.

But if our privacy becomes ever more systematically invaded by the state for purposes of assessing our behavior and making judgments about us, wrong information and misinterpretations will have potential consequences.

If information that is actually about someone else is wrongly applied to us, if wrong facts make it appear that we've done things we haven't, if perfectly innocent behavior is misinterpreted as suspicious because authorities don't know our reasons or our circumstances, we will be at risk of finding ourselves in trouble in a society where everyone is regarded as a suspect. By the time we clear our names and establish our innocence, we may have suffered irreparable financial or social harm.

Worse yet, we may never know what negative assumptions or judgments have been made about us in state files. Under exemptions to the general right of access under the Privacy Act, Canadians do not have the right to see the personal information that the Government holds about them if it pertains to national security or an ongoing investigation.

Decisions detrimental to us may be made on the basis of wrong facts, incomplete or out-of-context information or incorrect assumptions, without our ever having the chance to find out about it, let alone to set the record straight.


http://www.priv.gc.ca/information/ar/02_04_10_e.cfm
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Old 01-19-2010, 07:47 PM   #3
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I watched the ALPR video - I can't see what the problem with that is - if you are a law abidding citizen, you will be fine. I think it's great that they can maximize their time to find scum...
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Old 01-19-2010, 07:47 PM   #4
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Quote:

That possibility alone will, over time, make us increasingly think twice about what we do, where we go, with whom we associate, because we will learn to be concerned about how it might look to the ubiquitous watchers of the state.
  • You stopped briefly in Thailand during a business trip, and liked it so much that you're thinking of going back on a vacation. But might repeat travel to Thailand get you flagged by the Government's analysts as a possible pedophile going there for the child sex trade? Could you find yourself detained for questioning every time you travel? Might you be denied security clearances, or refused entry into the United States?

  • You're passing time browsing on the Internet and you're idly curious about what kind of propaganda in favour of al-Qaeda various extremists might be putting out. But could visiting such Web sites get you identified as a potential terrorist yourself and bring CSIS or RCMP officers knocking on your door?

  • You're stopped on the street by a stranger asking for directions. But if by then proliferating street video surveillance cameras are linked to biometric face-recognition technology, what if the system immediately identifies the stranger as a known or suspected terrorist? If the police officer then calls up your name and address by matching your onscreen image to your driver's license or passport photo, will you go into security files yourself as a suspicious individual who had a street meeting with a terrorism suspect? Would you do better to keep walking whenever any stranger tries to talk to you?

The bottom line is this: If we have to live our lives weighing every action, every communication, every human contact, wondering what agents of the state might find out about it, analyze it, judge it, possibly misconstrue it, and somehow use it to our detriment, we are not truly free.

That sort of life is characteristic of totalitarian countries, not a free and open society like Canada. But that is where we are inexorably headed, if the Government's current initiatives are allowed to proceed.

Let me very briefly address the specifics of these objectionable initiatives, before suggesting some broader considerations that I believe should guide us in the post-September 11 environment.

The CCRA "Big Brother"database
In late 2001, under amendments to the Customs Act, Customs officers of the CCRA were given access to Advance Passenger Information (API) and the far more detailed Passenger Name Record (PNR) about every passenger flying into Canada from a foreign destination. The stated purpose of this was to facilitate identifying individuals who merit more careful questioning or examination on arrival.

When this legislation was before Parliament, I sought and received a formal written undertaking from the CCRA that, except in those relatively few instances where this API/PNR information did in fact cause an individual to be identified for secondary screening, it would all be destroyed within 24 hours. On the basis of this unequivocal undertaking that there would be no widespread retention, I did not express any privacy objection to providing Customs with this passenger information and did not find it necessary to appear before the House and Senate committees that studied the proposed amendments.

Last summer, the CCRA informed me that, contrary to its past undertaking, it has decided to keep all API/PNR information about Canadian travellers for six years in a massive new database.

All this personal information - more than 30 data elements including every destination to which we travel, who we travel with, how we pay for the tickets (sometimes including credit card numbers), what contact numbers we provide, even any dietary preferences or health-related requirements we communicate to the airline - will be available for an almost limitless range of governmental purposes under the broad information-sharing provisions of the Customs Act.

Those purposes, by the Government's own account, include everything from routine income tax investigations to trying to flag Canadians as potential pedophiles or money launderers solely on the basis of their travel patterns.

This is unprecedented. The Government of Canada has absolutely no business creating a massive database of personal information about all law-abiding Canadians that is collected without our consent from third parties, not to provide us with any service but simply to have it available to use against us if it ever becomes expedient to do so. Compiling dossiers on the private activities of all law-abiding citizens is the sort of thing the Stasi secret police used to do in the former East Germany. It has no place in a free and democratic society.

The CCRA's purported reason for creating this database is "forensic": In the event that there is a terrorist attack and some of the perpetrators are known, it wants to be able to use this database in search of any accomplices or associates. The CCRA has absolutely no mandate under the Customs Act to gather information for this sort of after-the-fact anti-terrorist forensic investigation.

But I have repeatedly asked Revenue Minister Elinor Caplan at least to limit the uses of this database to this exceptional anti-terrorist purpose, by strictly exempting it from the normal information-sharing provisions of the Customs Act. She flatly refuses.

The creation of this CCRA database lacks Parliamentary authority. It contravenes the Privacy Act. And there is overwhelming reason to believe that it is contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I have provided to Minister Caplan and to the Government, and made public, three separate independent legal opinions from the most eminent of authorities: retired Supreme Court Justice Gérard V. La Forest, who wrote many of the Court's most important decisions on privacy rights; former federal Deputy Minister of Justice Roger Tassé, who played a key role in drafting the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and Hon. Marc Lalonde, who was a highly respected Minister of Justice in the Trudeau cabinet. All three state that this database clearly appears to be in violation of the Charter. This unprecedented trilogy of opinions has met with apparent indifference.

It is difficult to imagine a more flagrant disregard for the rights of Canadians. This database is legally wrong and morally wrong. If the Government can get away with systematically logging and analyzing all the foreign travel activities of every law-abiding citizen, then no other private activity will long be safe from being included in the same personal dossiers - our shopping, our banking, our communications, our movements within the country. The "Big Brother" society will be irrevocably upon us.

reall worth reading
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Old 01-19-2010, 07:48 PM   #5
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I think I was presented that warning in my Political Science elective last year.

The warning was in 2003... what has happened since?
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Old 01-19-2010, 07:53 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Deep 3.2TL View Post
I watched the ALPR video - I can't see what the problem with that is - if you are a law abidding citizen, you will be fine. I think it's great that they can maximize their time to find scum...
the video is not the reason for the thread, just a bi-product of the arguments presented in the article - or reason for the thread.

I don't know about 'scum' unless they're already in the system and wanted. otherwise it will just be rampant police harassment. <-uber relevent to thread. but mostly it will just be robot efficient wallet sucking of poor people.. the ones that usually lose a licence to unpaid fines. that'll go up to ..
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Old 01-19-2010, 08:03 PM   #7
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^^^ Still don't see a problem - if you have paid your fee's and aren't skipping on the law, you won't get harassed - they don't have a reason to harass you if the thing doesn't raise an alarm.

Just your imagination running wild again...
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Old 01-19-2010, 08:32 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Deep 3.2TL View Post
^^^ Still don't see a problem - if you have paid your fee's and aren't skipping on the law, you won't get harassed - they don't have a reason to harass you if the thing doesn't raise an alarm.

Just your imagination running wild again...
no. also the privacy commishs wild imagination, non article reading guy!

for most people, most of the time, privacy is a pretty abstract concept. Like our health, it's something we tend not to think about until we lose it - and then discover that our lives have been very unpleasantly, and perhaps irretrievably, altered.

But though we tend to take it for granted, privacy - the right to control access to ourselves and to personal information about us - is at the very core of our lives. It is a fundamental human right precisely because it is an innate human need, an essential condition of our freedom, our dignity and our sense of well-being.

If someone intrudes on our privacy - by peering into our home, going through the personal things in our office desk, reading over our shoulder on a bus or airplane, or eavesdropping on our conversation - we feel uncomfortable, even violated.

Imagine, then, how we will feel if it becomes routine for bureaucrats, police officers and other agents of the state to paw through all the details of our lives: where and when we travel, and with whom; who are the friends and acquaintances with whom we have telephone conversations or e-mail correspondence; what we are interested in reading or researching; where we like to go and what we like to do.

A popular response is: "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."

By that reasoning, of course, we shouldn't mind if the police were free to come into our homes at any time just to look around, if all our telephone conversations were monitored, if all our mail were read, if all the protections developed over centuries were swept away. It's only a difference of degree from the intrusions already being implemented or considered.

The truth is that we all do have something to hide, not because it's criminal or even shameful, but simply because it's private. We carefully calibrate what we reveal about ourselves to others.
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Old 01-19-2010, 09:51 PM   #9
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I kind of agree with him on this one...I mean where does it stop...Has nothing to do whether or not you are a law abiding citizen...The government shouldn't have the ability to constantly monitor citizen's...its a little bit of something each time...and each time you can say oh ya well "I agree it will help them catch bad guys" etc...But at some point you'll realize, you cannot do anything in your life without having someone looking over your shoulder. Crime will never be totally suppressed and criminals will always find alternative ways of doing things, and all that your left with is a population with no privacy.
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Old 01-20-2010, 12:23 AM   #10
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Italy To Require Anyone Who Uploads Video To The Internet To Obtain Government Authorization first

^these guys went through mussolini, wwII and yet still..
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