Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Is It Irony, Or Is It Hypocrisy?

It may be both. The Harper regime's penchant for withholding information from the public that should be accessible is well-known and well-documented.

As pointed out in this Star article, we are persistently denied access to the information about the dangerous side effects of drugs, how much Canada Post spent on overtime to end last year's backlog, nor how Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, the company implicated in the Lac-Mégantic train disaster, assured Transport Canada it could operate a one-man crew safely.

All of that, as the article makes clear, is merely the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

Unfortunately, the regime's penchant for keeping information concealed does not extend to Canadian citizens' right to privacy; here it is becoming increasing apparent that government wants to know far more about us than is either seemly or proper in a putatively democratic country.

As also reported in The Star,

Government agencies are asking telecoms and social media companies to turn over Canadians’ user data at “jaw-dropping” rates, with nearly 1.2 million requests in 2011 alone.

Which government and law enforcement agencies are requesting the data from the companies remains shrouded in secrecy. And the companies themselves are refusing to disclose further details, according to Canada’s privacy watchdog.

And the most worrisome aspect of this invasion is that most of these are requests, i.e., unaccompanied by warrants. Compounding the matter is that when data is turned over, the telecoms do not inform their customers:

The companies [Bell Rogers, Telus et al] say they don’t inform their customers when their information is turned over to authorities, meaning the vast majority of those customers would have no knowledge of the transaction.

Beyond that, they will not comment further, refusing requests from the Privacy Commissioner to tell her how many times they have handed over private data to the government without a warrant.

That same cone of silence seems to be enveloping the government:

The Department of Public Safety declined an interview request by the Star. Industry Minister James Moore, whose department is responsible for the telecom sector, refused to comment on the story when asked by reporters in the House of Commons.

Unfortunately, there is much worse to come:

Michael Geist, one of Canada’s leading Internet privacy experts .... warns that legislation currently before Parliament will actually expand the number of organizations that can ask telecoms and social media companies to voluntarily hand over their customers’ information, and protect those companies from civil or criminal lawsuits.

“It is a structure that allows for the massive disclosure of personal information with no court oversight whatsoever,” Geist said.

Anyone who is not disturbed by these revelations clearly places far too little value on their privacy and accords far too much faith in the benevolence of a government that has consistently proven itself inimical to the best interests of those it 'serves.'


  1. Big Brother is watching all of us, Lorne.

    1. A situation that our domestic Big Brother, Stephen, seems entirely comfortable with, Owen

    2. .. hmmn .. in some, OK many ways .. I'm intrigued by a runaway derelict Rapture driven, drunk on power, evangelical 'government' hysterically trying to piss on our collective Canadian legs.. and tell us its raining ..

      That's the stuff of Hollywood .. no Bollywood films.. no ! Soap operas from no-where-ville .. ! Bad cable drama .. but cheap, programming

      If we need a read on exactly what the Harper Party that now has become our government really intends.. its not exactly mysterious .. it does not however include transparency, accountability or good government.. its in fact .. the complete opposite

    3. 'Drunk on power' seems a wholly inadequate description of these renegades, doesn't it, Salamander?

  2. CBC is reporting that the government PAYS the telecoms for this information. (In case we wondered what made them so cooperative; it’s a profit centre.)