Canada's surveillance program copies U.S. model

Americans were up in arms last week that an invasive surveillance project commissioned by the National Security Agency (NSA) known as "PRISM". Now, Canadians may be questioning just how much internet security and privacy they really have in light of the new trans-national "Security Perimeter".

With a little digging it became clear that it wasn’t very difficult to find out the extent of  corresponding surveillance in Canada. Defence Minister Peter Mackay had signed a directive on November 21, 2001 essentially allowing for eavesdropping on telephone and internet records, according to a June 10th, 2013 article by the Globe and Mail in relation to the "Security Perimeter".

Some may say look at the timing of the implementation of the directive and notice how it was two months after September 11th, which saw much of the Western World implementing new policies which violated civil liberties in the name of security.  However as the Globe and Mail article reports, earlier versions of this bill have existed since 2005, under the Liberal government of Paul Martin who supported the notorius "Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America" that he signed with then President George W. Bush.

The Canadian surveillance program is managed by the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), a branch of the Department of National Defence.

A document obtained by the Canadian Press in 2011 explains how the program uses “meta-data” to identify participants in an email or telephone call, locations of the participants, and the time the interaction occurred. The document also states that the privacy of Canadians will be protected during the collection process of this information.

“[The collection of meta-data] will be subject to strict conditions to protect the privacy of Canadians, consistent with these standards governing CSEC's other programs."

With the existence of the American and Canadian surveillance programs, those concerned with the protection of civil liberties such as Christopher Soghoian are warning people to be careful what they post on social networking sites as you not know who is looking at the other end.

Canadians are also vulnerable to corresponding phone spying.

"I think Canadians really need to look at whether it’s safe to be trusting foreign companies, in this case a U.S company, with as much of their private data, given what the American government has been doing,” Christopher Soghoian of the American Civil Liberties Union told CTV News.

Christopher continued, reminding people that control is taken away from you when you post personal photos or emails online.

"When you give your information, whether it's your personal emails or private photographs or social networking information, when you give that to a company not in your country you really give up control of that and you allow a foreign government to access that, in addition to your own."

Sales of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, (which spoke of a a world which was completely monitored and where its inhabitants feared their government), have increased by a whopping 7000%.  This shows people are taking an interest in this issue which is important because citizens should never have to fear their government. As Thomas Jefferson famously said:

"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."


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