Do Canadians Value Privacy?

November 7th, 2006 | by ian |

That Canada ranked #2 in defending the privacy of its citizens is perhaps more of a sad comment on international complacence on privacy issues than a major achievement of which we can be particularly proud. From The Globe and Mail:

LONDON — Germany and Canada are the best defenders of privacy, and Malaysia and China the worst, an international rights group said in a report released Wednesday. Britain was rated as an endemic surveillance society, at No. 33, just above Russia and Singapore on a ranking of 37 countries’ privacy protections by London-based Privacy International. The United States did only slightly better, at No. 30, ranked between Israel and Thailand, with few safeguards and widespread surveillance, the group said.

For instance, I am quite certain that the RCMP and CSIS are intercepting and scanning all Canadian internet traffic. This is easy and cheap to do. Who knows what their policies are and while I have no doubt they have good intentions, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t exclude the possibility of being on the road to hell. A good indication that they are already set up to scan all traffic is their ongoing attempts to gain legal support for this via the broad and unpopular “lawful access” bill. According to Michael Geist they are now attempting to obtain similar powers in a smaller, seemingly innocuous bits of legislation. Given the track records of our security agencies which include leaving confidential information in a phone booth or in a car’s passenger seat in full view, I can’t say I have much confidence the highly sensitive tasks of internet surveillance will be executed particularly well.

Perhaps they can engage the public on this in an honest and forthright manner before there is a Canadian version of the AOL privacy leak. At least I’m sure it will be unintentional in this case, Canadians never intend to do anyone any harm cause we’re nice eh? My feedback to them would be to learn from commercial projects and surveil the data not the citizens.

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