Michael Geist: The Shameful Canadian Silence on Surveillance

InsightaaS: Readers who follow Across the Net know that we are appreciate and support the efforts of Michael Geist to expose issues and legislation that threaten Canadians’ privacy and digital freedoms. Geist’s latest post, “The Shameful Canadian Silence on Surveillance,” follows on several others – including important coverage of the newly-introduced Bill C-13, which was highlighted here in November — to draw attention to Canadians’ muted response to attacks on their privacy and digital freedoms. In this post, Geist states that “Canadians deserve to know more about government surveillance activities, more about whether Canadian oversight is sufficient, and more about how companies such as Bell, Rogers, and Telus handle their personal information.” We want to believe that this is true – but the cost of this knowledge is vigilance and active support of those who, like Geist, advocate for better policy in a sometimes-difficult-to-follow area. 

Later this morning, U.S. President Barack Obama will give a speech on U.S. surveillance activities in which he is expected to establish new limitations on the program. While the measures will likely fall well short of what many believe is necessary, it is notable that the surveillance issue has emerged as a significant political issue since the Snowden leaks and the U.S. government has recognized the need to address it.

Reaction to the Snowden leaks in the U.S. has not been limited to political responses. In recent months, Verizon and AT&T, the two U.S. telecom giants, announced plans to issue regular transparency reports on the number of law enforcement requests they receive for customer information. The telecom transparency reports come following a similar trend from leading Internet companies such as Google, Twitter, Microsoft, and Facebook.

The U.S. reaction stands in stark contrast to the situation in Canada. Canadian government officials have said little about Canadian surveillance activities, despite leaks of spying activities, cooperation with the NSA, a federal court decision that criticized the intelligence agencies for misleading the court, and a domestic metadata program which remains shrouded in secrecy…

Read the entire post: http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/7051/125/


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