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First POST: Oh, Canada

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, January 31 2014

Oh, Canada

  • The Snowden files made news in Canada again today, with Greg Weston, Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher of CBC News reporting that the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), Canada's NSA, had used WiFi systems at the country's airports, hotels, and Internet cafes to track the behavior of thousands of ordinary citizens. Cybersecurity expert Ron Diebert told the CBC that CSEC's actions were almost certainly illegal. "All Canadians with a smartphone, tablet or laptop are 'essentially carrying around digital dog tags as we go about our daily lives,'" Deibert noted.

  • Ontario's privacy commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, told the CBC News she was "blown away" by the news. "I mean that could have been me at the airport walking around… This resembles the activities of a totalitarian state, not a free and open society."

  • Writing in The Globe and Mail, Diebert--whose Citizen Lab has long been in the forefront of uncovering the efforts of authoritarian countries to spy on their citizens, says this is a moment of reckoning for Canadians:

    The revelations require an immediate response. They throw into sharp relief the obvious inadequacy of the existing “oversight” mechanism, which operates entirely within the security tent. They cast into doubt all government statements made about the limits of such programs. They raise the alarming prospect that Canada’s intelligence agencies may be routinely obtaining data on Canadian citizens from private companies – which includes revealing personal data – on the basis of a unilateral and highly dubious definition of “metadata” (the information sent by cellphones and mobile devices describing their location, numbers called and so on) as somehow not being “communications.” Such operations go well beyond invasions of privacy; the potential for the abuse of unchecked power contained here is practically limitless.
    We live in a world of Big Data and the Internet of Things, our lives turned inside out. We leave a vast digital trail of intimately revealing metadata around us wherever we go. Allowing the state to have access to all of it is incompatible with a free and democratic society. The question now for Canadians to collectively address is what are we going to do about it?

  • President Obama's new choice to head the NSA, Vice Admiral Michael Rogers, is a Navy expert on cyberwar, "but someone with no public track record in addressing the kinds of privacy concerns that have put the agency under a harsh spotlight," David Sanger and Thom Shanker write in today's New York Times.

  • The report that the NSA snooped on the Copenhagen climate summit of 2009, which collapsed in failure, is generating outrage among developing country climate leaders.

  • Wrecking gall: The Guardian has posted a video showing the day last July when, at the behest of GCHQ, they destroyed hard drives and memory cards holding their copies of the Snowden files.

  • The TSA's full-body scanners are "shit," writes a former employee of the agency who worked as an airport screener, in a tell-all for Politico Magazine. But that didn't stop TSA employees from spending hours gawking at ghostly images of naked travelers.

  • On the Bay Area class war: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff talks about how Silicon Valley techies need to be more more philanthropic, and admits that he's "a fan of civil disobedience."

  • Journalists, along with others attending the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia, will be under full digital surveillance, according to a new government decree. The goal, say Russian investigative journalists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, is "to impose self-censorship on journalists, foreign and domestic."

  • No beer delivery by drone, says the FAA to a Minnesota beer-maker who thought ice-fishers might be thirsty.

  • In case you missed it, here's "What Swartz, Lessig, Assange & Snowden Have to Teach Us," the text of the talk I gave in Berlin this past Sunday at the As Darkness Falls conference.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

First POST: Creeping

Senator Al Franken's tough questions for Uber's CEO; how the NSA could make its phone metadata program permanent; global privacy groups launch a personal spyware catcher called Detekt; and much, much more. GO

Recreation.gov and other Govt Projects Move Toward Embracing New Digital Approach

A draft request for proposals for the revamping of Recreation.gov will include a requirement that reservation availability data be publicly accessible and that all proposals detail how they will enable third-party sales, as two members of the United States Digital Services have joined the government team overseeing the RFP, meeting some key demands of civic technologists and consumer oriented technology companies. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Ubermenschens

Surge-pricing in effect for Uber privacy violations; why "privacy" policies should be called "data usage" policies; pols silent on Uber mess; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Uber Falles

Uber exposed for plan to dig up dirt on journalist critics; sneaking a SOPA provision into the USA Freedom Act; high-speed free WiFi coming to NYC; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Differences

How to use Twitter to circumvent campaign coordination rules; the net neutrality debate keeps getting hotter; charting the gender balance at dataviz conference using dataviz; and much, much more. GO

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