Whoa! Canada

laurel l. russwurm's political musings

Posts Tagged ‘privacy

Democracy Must Respect Privacy

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Canadian Flag marked with an Xlag
Yesterday I saw a link to a new initiative intended to try to re-engage Canadians who have given up on our terribly undemocratic political system. It looked like an excellent idea — if course it did, I’ve been advocating the same thing myself for ages. The site was recommended to me by people and organizations whose work I respect and support, so I shared it widely without looking at it as closely as I usually would.

But I was wrong.

DO NOT SIGN UP with votepromise.ca!

When I made the recommendation yesterday, I had only looked at the first page of the site. Today, someone told me what happens when you click to make a “vote promise.” This web site is not only asking people for their own names and personal information, but also for the names and personal information of the people they would be trying to convince to vote.

Democracy Needs A SECRET BALLOT

The *only* way to have a democratic electoral system is by having a secret ballot and protecting the privacy of eligible voters.

Just because political parties ask us who we are going to vote for, does not mean they have a right to know.

THEY DON’T.

How we vote is private information for a very good reason. It is one of the most important protections afforded citizens in a democracy. In fact, it is positively DANGEROUS for citizens to tell elected Representatives who we are going to vote for. Especially when the political party in power is known to have an enemies list!

Citizens known to have voted against it can find themselves suffering serious consequences in their daily lives. The consequences having our privacy breached in this way may put citizens in danger of (but not limited to):

  • losing promotions, or
  • even their job,
  • Political affiliation might cost someone admission to the university of their choice
  • or prevent them from getting the apartment
  • research grant
  • building permit
  • visa
  • or job that you want.
  • It might even result in direct harassment.
  • Even families could suffer repercussions.

Citizens need civil rights to prevent the state from abusing the considerable power at its disposal. The government of the day might not provide you with the assistance or services to which all citizens are supposed to be entitled, or even go out of its way to harass you more directly..

But it isn’t only that. You can just as easily suffer discrimination from employers, teachers, or anyone holding power over any part of your life if that person is devoted to a different political party than the one you voted for. One of the most difficult parts of discrimination, is that it can be so skilfully done you might not even notice it has happened, let alone prove it did.

This is why NO ONE has the right to know who you actually vote for. If they do, you can be coerced into voting they way they want.

The secret ballot is a cornerstone of democracy.

And just as no one has the right to know who you vote for, whether or not you choose to vote is also personally private information. It is no one else’s business.

People Need Personal Privacy

Every time we sign a petition with our real name and identifying information, every time we register on Facebook (or *any* of the other social networks,) or buy anything online, we pay for the convenience with our privacy. Adults have the right to decide for themselves if they are willing to give up their own privacy, and how much. Many people have bought onto the absurd argument that we don’t need privacy if we have nothing to hide. And that is their right.

I know people who will not willingly give up their privacy. I know people who only use the Internet anonymously, away from know, using serious encryption and proxy servers. I also know people who don’t want to be photographed, people who don’t use computers, and people who will never use Facebook, Google or Twitter &tc. because they are simply not willing to sacrifice their privacy.

Most people used to dismiss these people as conspiracy theorists, at least until a brave and honorable young man named Ed Snowden risked everything to inform the world that every thing we say and do on the Internet (and the telephone) is being monitored and/or stored in perpetuity by our government in concert with the NSA.

While every adult should be entitled to make their own decisions about how or if they wish to safeguard their own privacy, no one has the right to decide this for anyone else. It doesn’t matter whether you do or don’t care about your own privacy. The privacy of every Canadian is supposed to be safeguarded by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Fundamental Freedoms

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Internet is a public place. Posting an identifiable photographs of a private people on the Internet without their permission is an invasion of their right to privacy. “Tagging” a photo of a private person is an invasion of privacy.

Giving anyone’s personal information to anyone else is an egregious invasion of privacy.

If you are willing to give a website like <a href=”http://votepromise.ca/votepromise.ca your own personal information, you are at least covered by the terms of its privacy policy (as ineffectual as that policy may be). When you surrender anyone else’s personal information, they are not.

EFF warns all it takes is three pieces of personal information to identify anyone.

If you give votepromise.ca the name, email address and postal code of anyone else, you have not only positively identified them, you have broadcast their voting decision.

XflagSQ

Even if you trust votepromise.ca to protect your own personal information, even though it is not even a secure website, all of this personal information it gathers will certainly be harvested by government to do what it will.

Democracy Requires Privacy

One of the reasons we need democracy is to safeguard personal privacy; there is no way I can ever support throwing privacy under the bus. That is not acceptable.

It is an excellent idea to discuss politics with your friends and neighbors. Just try to convince anyone you think might not vote to go out and cast their ballot the way they want to, in any and all elections.

Just don’t be telling votepromise.ca or anyone else about it.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves
[Thanks Tim Southernwood!]

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

May 8, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Privacy and Social Media in Canada

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This guest post was written by Fiona Causer, a student currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies. She enjoys writing and seeks to use it as a vehicle to convey ideas and engage others in discussing relevant issues of our day.


Canada is the thirteenth most saturated country in terms of global Facebook users, with a penetration rate of 51.22%.  With so many users, Facebook,  Twitter, and other social media sites maintain personal information on millions of people.

The basic information you provide Facebook includes personal information like hometown, employer, education, religious and political views, phone numbers, email addresses, and more.

Your book, movie, and music preferences, as well as your current whereabouts and up to the minute status updates, and so much more are part of the price we pay for such “free” services.

Thankfully, unlike in America where this issue has recently been an issue in the news, federal labor laws prevent prospective employers from requesting personal information from job applicants, like social media passwords. Employers requesting Facebook passwords would be in violation of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)  and the Ontario Human Rights Code. And likely, there will not be a cause for concern in the future, since both federal and local governments employ privacy commissioners in order to guard the privacy of Canadian workers. Despite these safeguards, Canadian legal practitioners still need to remain vigilant in assessing new privacy cases as the social media landscape continues to change. Many Canadian law, legal services and paralegal degree programs are continuing to put an emphasis in understanding privacy and intellectual property law. Canadian lawyers are ready for any personal privacy-related issues in the future.

Canada has taken issue with Facebook’s privacy settings in the past; in 2009, the country released a privacy commission report indicating that even after a user deletes their account, the company keeps user information. Though Facebook agreed to change their privacy policy in response to Canada’s requests, the ongoing evolution of Facebook ensures that this won’t be the last of the questionable privacy settings, and Canadians should be aware that every time Facebook makes changes, users privacy settings need to be reanalyzed.

Internet legislation, not just in social media, is becoming increasingly concerned with censorship and piracy. America’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) protests were obvious: websites took a stand, Facebook profile pictures were replaced by the anti-signs, and SOPA and PIPA were broadcast widely as terrible solutions to a perplexing problem. But the neighbors to the north are facing their own political push towards online censorship with Bill C-11, which, though less radical than PIPA and SOPA, will seriously affect North American internet usage.

However, this does not mean that there have not been legislative attempts to make the Canadian government privy to its citizens’ personal information. For example, while Bill C-10 has been passed, Parliament first removed the “lawful access” provisions, in response to public discontent over its inclusion. This would affect the privacy rights of all Canadian citizens (not just criminals) by allowing warrantless access to personal information Despite its removal in Bill-10, it appears that Parliament is trying to reinsert similar language and provisions into Bill C-30, this time for the intended purpose of protecting Canadian children from criminals. Regardless of Parliament’s intent, there is clearly a desire for granting itself greater scrutiny into the actions of its citizens. If any clause regarding “lawful access” is included in either C-30 or future bills, there will surely be more privacy rights concerns for Canadians.

As for C-11, while it seeks to provide protection against copyright infringement, it will serve little purpose in protecting Canadian’s right to privacy, especially if “lawful access” is ever included in any future legislation. Ultimately, while these bills (i.e., C-10, C-11, C-30) are rooted in the idea of protecting its citizens either from intellectual property theft or criminality, they do propose significant concerns for the privacy rights of Canadians; especially those actively engaged with social media networks.

Having a collective voice is a powerful tool. And if Canadians start to feel that their future privacy rights are on the fringe of being compromised: they will have to actively speak up. Otherwise, Parliament may not even think to listen.

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

April 16, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Loose Ties make WikiLeaks Strong

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I can’t get over the fact that Tom Flanagan didn’t understand suggesting assassination was inappropriate.

Tom Flanagan thought assassinating Julian Assange was reasonable.

Canadians are becoming angry at the arrogance of our elected officials and their unelected advisors.

Canadian Flag

Democracies around the world are facing calls for electoral reform. Coincidence?

Like Wikipedia, democracy can be altered in a heartbeat.

If we don’t protect our democracies, we’ll lose them.

The other night I stayed up far too late because I wanted to know that WikiLeaks was alright. Because I think WikiLeaks is important,

WikiLeaks shines a light on important issues– issues that the powerful and the self important want to keep dark.

Which is why powerful forces are arrayed against WikiLeaks.

Julian Assange is facing charges that I think even the most naïve schoolchild would realize are trumped up, along with both cyber and economic attacks, topped off with death threats. Wonder if that’s enough jeopardy for Malcolm Gladwell, who made the argument that real activism requires jeopardy in his New Yorker “Small Change” article, which prompted my rebuttal Tie Theory.

WikiLeaks is kind of a hybrid activist/news media. It is a truly international organization. Its only country is the Internet. That was the other fault Gladwell had with Internet activism: he thinks that activism requires people to be closely tied. WikiLeaks depends on being a “loose tie” network. You don’t get much looser than total strangers. Total strangers opt to host or mirror WikiLeaks on their computers. Because the more copies there are, the more spread out the network is, the looser the ties, the more difficult it is to shut it down.

In my post yesterday I called on the Pirate Party of Canada to be a Canadian host of WikiLeaks. I don’t know if they’ll do it or not, all I know is what I’ll do.

I am Hosting #cablegate

[Disclaimer: No, I don't actually know how to set up something like this myself; I had help. :) ]

You can peruse the cables at will on my Cablegate page,
or if you prefer to download or torrent You can do that here.

The thing is, I’m not alone. Here’s another list of WikiLeaks mirrors.

It isn’t much for one person to have to do, but there are rather a lot of us.

People connected through loose ties. We aren’t tied together by geography, ethnicity, family or religion, Malcolm, but only loosely connected by intangibles.

Ideas like:

#democracy,
#accountability,
#human rights,
#privacy…

That’s how “loose tie” networks work. And it’s also why loose tie networks can be superior.


WikiLeaks: Keep Us Strong


We all do what we can

You can just read the WikiLeaks Cablegate cables online. A new batch is released daily.

threethirty rt @WikiLeakMirror: Cables available at http colon slash slash bit dot ly slash ht6HqE semicolon includes LATEST cables bracket 12/4 bracket. Support free speech wikileaks #cablegate

Or, you can add your computer power to help, by seeding the WikiLeaks material that you have yourself downloaded via torrents.

rom1v  http colon slash slash 88 dot 80 dot 16 dot 63 slash torrent slash cablegate slash cablegate dash 201012041409 dot 7z dot torrent #wikileaks #backup #cablegate #statelogs

Or, last but not least, you can jump into the WikiLeaks network with both feet. Because the more spread out the network is, the more difficult it is to wipe out. This option is a bit more risky, particularly as it is lawmakers who want this stopped. Consider it carefully; remember you may wake up one morning to discover they have made this illegal.

jwildeboer  Are you brave enough? http colon slash slash 213.251.145.96 slash mass-mirror dot html #wikileaks #cablegate

Further Reading: Reporters Without Borders: WikiLeaks Hounded

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