Monday, April 02, 2012

Daily Digest April 2, 2012



PMO quiet on PM pension top-up until �if/when� Rae tables amendment
Until they see his proposed budget sub-amendment, the Prime Minister�s Office won�t comment on Liberal interim leader Bob Rae�s call for the prime minister to give up a $100,000 pension top-up, they told iPolitics on Sunday.


UK Tories to introduce internet surveillance law

Posted: 01 Apr 2012 12:38 PM PDT
Conservatives worldwide seem to be uniting under a new banner of privacy invasion:
Under legislation expected in next month's Queen's Speech, internet companies will be instructed to install hardware enabling GCHQ the Government's electronic "listening" agenncy to examine "on demand" any phone call made, text message and eemail sent, and website accessed in "real time", The Sunday Times reported.
A previous attempt to introduce a similar law was abandoned by the former Labour government in 2006 in the face of fierce opposition.

However ministers believe it is essential that the police and security services have access to such communications data in order to tackle terrorism and protect the public.
Although GCHQ would not be able to access the content of such communications without a warrant, the legislation would enable it to trace people individuals or groups are in contact with, and how often and for how long they are in communication. ...
Nick Pickles, director of the Big Brother Watch campaign group, said: "This is an unprecedented step that will see Britain adopt the same kind of surveillance seen in China and Iran.
"This is an absolute attack on privacy online and it is far from clear this will actually improve public safety, while adding significant costs to internet businesses.
"If this was such a serious security issue why has the Home Office not ensured these powers were in place before the Olympics?"

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty, said that both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats had resisted the plan when they were in opposition.
"There is an element of whoever you vote for the empire strikes back," she told Sky News's Murnaghan programme.
"This is more ambitious than anything that has been done before. It is a pretty drastic step in a democracy.
"It was resisted under the last government. The coalition bound itself together in the language of civil liberties. Do they still mean it?"

This is true, they are backtracking on their explicit pledges made during the election.

It never ceases to amaze how it is the conservatives around the world who supposedly want to get government off citizens' backs are nevertheless the ones who are looking to expand powers like this so radically.

Expect tremendous opposition to this bill. Maybe they need a #TellDaveEverything hashtag to get it going...

Routine cellphone tracking in the U.S.

Posted: 01 Apr 2012 04:14 AM PDT
There is a must read as context for the Canadian C-30 legislation that is pending, the lead from the New York Times today:
"Police Tracking of Cellphones Raises Privacy Fears." The American Civil Liberties Union has put together records from police departments across the U.S. showing widespread cellphone tracking that has become an ordinary thing:
Law enforcement tracking of cellphones, once the province mainly of federal agents, has become a powerful and widely used surveillance tool for local police officials, with hundreds of departments, large and small, often using it aggressively with little or no court oversight, documents show.

The practice has become big business for cellphone companies, too, with a handful of carriers marketing a catalog of �surveillance fees� to police departments to determine a suspect�s location, trace phone calls and texts or provide other services. Some departments log dozens of traces a month for both emergencies and routine investigations.

This widespread use of cellphone tracking seems to be a product of the Bush administration's vast NSA eavesdropping for terrorism operations which was quite controversial but somehow still managed to gain Congressional approval, including immunity for phone companies against lawsuits. Apparently what was good at the national level in the U.S. crept down into state and local police departments' ethics.

We have not had the same experience as the Americans so comparisons are never exact. This report is revealing, however, of how things could possibly go for us if we were to travel down a road which created a permissive environment for warrantless internet surveillance with the proposed C-30. The notion that law abiding citizens have nothing to worry about doesn't hold up when you see such evidence of law enforcement tracking cell phones even in non-emergency situations.

C-30 is going before a Commons committee at some point in the next few months. This U.S. experience could be helpful when it does. It's a reminder that there needs to be a check on law enforcement and that check is the judicial warrant

 So, how many more �aborted revolutions� is the West going to correct via arms from the black market, �defensive� communication equipment or outright interventions?