Canadians urged to show their support for BC Civil Liberties Association legal action which challenges constitutionality of blanket surveillance against law-abiding Canadians
October 22, 2013 – Making headlines around the world, the activities of a secretive government spy agency have galvanized Canadians from across the political spectrum to speak out and demand answers. Today, on their behalf, OpenMedia.ca and the BC Civil Liberties Association are announcing they will work together to put a stop to unlawful government surveillance against law-abiding Canadians.
OpenMedia.ca is launching a national campaign calling on all Canadians to show their support for a court challenge launched this morning by the BCCLA. OpenMedia.ca is Canada’s largest civic engagement organization that works to ensure the Internet is open, affordable, and surveillance-free.
The legal action challenges the constitutionality of federal legislation underpinning the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), a secretive government spy agency. The BCCLA legal action is also challenging the constitutionality of the government’s warrantless collection of data including Canadians’ everyday Internet use.
Concerns over privacy were sparked by revelations earlier this year that the private data of law-abiding Canadians was being collected by CSEC. Just weeks ago, investigative reporters revealed how CSEC collaborated with the U.S. National Security Agency to conduct invasive industrial espionage against Brazil’s important mining and energy ministry. It was subsequently revealed that CSEC has been holding top secret meetings with Canadian energy companies twice a year since 2005.
CSEC is about to receive a new taxpayer supported 72,000-square-metre compound in Ottawa that will cost $4.2-billion to build and operate. The government’s own watchdog over the agency has recently aired concerns that CSEC may have been illegally spying on Canadians within the past 12 months.
“The government’s CSEC spying is secretive, expensive, and out of control,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “We’re talking about a secretive agency having the power to spy on the private lives of any resident of Canada, at any time, and we can’t even tell when we’ve been victimized by it. We strongly support the BCCLA’s court challenge, and that’s why today we’re hosting a campaign that calls on all Canadians to stand with the BCCLA and demand a stop to these reckless programs of arbitrary online spying of law-abiding Canadians.”
Anderson continued: “This is an issue that transcends partisan boundaries and unites all Canadians – nobody wants government bureaucrats spying on their private lives. Canada is at a tipping point – either we stand up and tell decision-makers that this kind of invasive and reckless spying is unconstitutional and unacceptable, or we could end up with blanket government surveillance over our everyday lives. That’s the reality, and that’s why many Canadians are compelled to speak out.”
Caily DiPuma, lawyer for the BCCLA says, “Canada is not a nation of secret laws. It is fundamental to the proper operation of our democracy that Canadians be able to access and understand the laws that impact their rights and freedoms. It is simply not enough for the government to ask Canadians to “trust” their spy agencies. We are not a society of blind faith – we are a society of accountability, transparency, and free and open debate.”
Canadians are invited to stand with the BCCLA and show their support by speaking out at https://OpenMedia.ca/csec
OpenMedia.ca and the BCCLA are also part of a recently launched broad-based Protect Our Privacy Coalition of citizens, experts, organizations, and businesses who have come together to to protect the privacy of every resident of Canada.
OpenMedia.ca is a network of people and organizations working to safeguard the possibilities of the open Internet. We work toward informed and participatory digital policy.
About OpenMedia.ca’s privacy campaign
OpenMedia.ca led the successful StopSpying.ca campaign that forced the government to back down on its plans to introduce a costly, invasive, and warrantless online spying law (Bill C-30). Nearly 150,000 Canadians took part in the campaign. To learn more, see this infographic.
Earlier this year, OpenMedia.ca launched its Secret Spying campaign, to demand answers and immediate action from the government after it was revealed that a secretive government agency has been spying on the telephone and Internet activities of individuals, including law-abiding Canadians.
On October 10, 2013 OpenMedia.ca collaborated with over 35 major organizations and over a dozen academic experts to form the Protect Our Privacy Coalition, which is the largest pro-privacy coalition in Canadian history. The Coalition is calling for effective legal measures to protect the privacy of every resident of Canada against intrusion by government entities.
Communications Coordinator, OpenMedia.ca
- Privacy watchdog on spy agency’s data collection: ‘We want to find out more’. [Source: The Globe And Mail]
- Canada’s spy agency may have illegally targeted Canadians: watchdog. [Source: National Post]
- Inside Canada’s top-secret billion-dollar spy palace. [Source: CBC News.]
- Data breach protocols deficient in 9 federal departments, watchdog finds. – [Source: CBC News]
- Lawful Access back on the agenda this Fall? – Michael Geist.
- The secretive CSEC agency has a staff of more than 2,000 and a budget of about $400 million. [Source: CBC News]
- Surveillance expert Ron Deibert on the threat spy agencies pose for citizens.
- Internet Law expert Michael Geist on why Canadians should be concerned about government spying.
- Privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart says there are significant concerns about the scope of information that CSEC are reported to collect. [Source: CBC News]
- In this article, The Globe and Mail describes the revelations about Canadian government spying as “disturbing and unacceptable”
- This document, obtained by The Globe through Access to Information, shows how Minister MacKay authorized a top secret program to data-mine global ‘metadata’ in 2011.