We live with being watched in ever more penetrating ways

Scott Free
More than just insidious spamming

By Diane Walsh

We live with being watched in ever more penetrating ways

In recent months there has been criticism of the Harper government’s current “security” modus operandi, with accusations that the federal Conservatives are complicit in a booming US spy-wagon.
Much of the outcry is coming from traditionally left-of-centre online watchdog bulletins that, not surprisingly, hone in on risks to our privacy rights in Canada. There are websites that track others online activity which some have deemed an infringement of basic privacy rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In a January 18th, 2008 statement, the Green Party raised awareness in Canada about US surveillance practices. The FBI's international database raises privacy concerns” according to Green Party Press Secretary Camille Labchuk. There is a “concern over the potential loss of privacy [for Canadians] with the United States’ proposed international database dubbed the ‘Server in the Sky,’” she goes on. “The project, which would allow the international exchange of biometric information, could result in a significant loss of personal privacy for Canadian citizens and should be subject to Parliamentary approval. FBI has been speaking with the RCMP regarding the establishment of an international database that would allow personal information such as fingerprints, DNA and eye scans to be easily exchanged between the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. It is estimated that the database would hold personal information from millions of people.”
The questions being asked are two-fold: Do we need to be afraid of what we write and send over the internet if it’s not in agreement with current US security policy? And does the ordinary person publishing dissenting opinion over the web need to be worried that some phrase may trigger a surveillance op?
Daringly, I suppose, I’ve explored citizen rights watchdog websites noticing a kind of cynicism out there about “security” issues in general; for the most part people are wondering if one day mandatory eye scans will be the future to which we have to look forward if we continue along this US spy wagon trail. Are we living in Orwell’s version of 1984 after all?
Civil liberties this side of the border could well be under threat as a direct result of the US administration’s green-light to the database operating in the Canadian cyber skies. To this extent there may even be a risk in being seen to be defending individual rights over national security for this simple reason: there’s always a chance some “spy expert” could negatively construe participation in a discussion as lack of patriotism or leftist radicalism requiring surveillance by security personnel whose job it is to comb suspicious dissent in an age of terrorism.
Don’t you get the feeling sometimes when you see spam in your inbox that it smacks as a kind of Orwellianism? Is it just idle cyber-speculation that we are being watched? Citizen watchdog sites seem not to think so. Perhaps you might have noticed made-up names or spam words which are designed to grab your attention and are disturbingly similar to the very words you just typed to a friend in a recent email.
The internet is becoming a little spooky and I don’t think I’m alone in being a touch paranoid. In these times of increased state power we’re being patronized and silenced. We’re told reassuringly that surveillance, whatever the form, is good because it keeps us safe, because, “our government’s making things more secure.” Apart from being advised to buy more “protection” software we’re told to mind our own business and let security experts do what they do best.
But when we’re continually inundated by more invasions in our “secure” email account this is not the rhetoric we want to hear. It’s no surprise there are more than just a few people more than a little frustrated when the fact is infiltration of some form or other is happening all around us. It’s a part of a computer-dependent society, we’re told, and this is not to be questioned “in an age of national security priorities.”
Journalists in particular have a burden of responsibility to be acutely aware of the changing ethical landscape when it comes to protecting privacy. But again and again we are seeing them punished for protecting “sources.” What we’ve long understood to be Charter-protected “privacy rights” is eroding. It’s clear: traditionally in Canada it used to be accepted that if someone was to be videotaped she or he couldn’t also be audio-taped at the same time (that is, video-recorded and heard, talking without her or his explicit permission). This is not so anymore. Look at the proliferation of government-legitimated “quiet” investigations and the number of U-Tube videos freely circulated.
Having recently spoken to a private investigator off-the-record I’m now led to ask the question: what part, if any, do private investigators working for government play in the new wave of “doing safety” for the state? What was once an undisputedly careful professional practice of making sure not to breach the video-audio rule is muddying up significantly.
It doesn’t help that there is clandestine surveillance going on though the computer. Think of the quickly-proliferating internet software inventions that represent insidious “recording” opportunities. Some people have complained these invasive tools are described innocently as benign software advancements when in fact they can be used to wrongfully invade ordinary people’s lives under the guise of government, police and associates allegedly doing “their job to protect us.”
Many bloggers concur it’s a good thing we’re gradually gaining greater access to historically-held government information. Freedom of Information legislation has radically changed the face of transparency. Paradoxically, this transparency is touted as a good thing. The governments in unison are claiming they need more protection in order to better protect citizens. But it may be that we need protection from them.
Canada still ranked high in terms of a country that protects privacy but Harper’s complicity with the US administration’s push for the Server in the Sky, necessarily reaching Canada, changes the privacy rights landscape. There needs to be a discussion in Parliament about the “Server in the Sky” and its relationship with our Charter.

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Are we supposed to be pretending that we don't know what an impending purge looks like? Granted I've never been in one but thanks to the printed word I know what one looks like.
Anyone can watch me until the cows come home.... I could care less.
So why not let the government put a camera in your TV or your bedroom. Do you let your employer follow every move you make at work, where you are, for how, long who you talk with , what about.
I'm speaking for myself here, and since I can't work and don't do anything but sleep in my bedroom...hey if it gives some government mandarin a thrill to watch me....I couldn't care less. Unlike the stooges that Canadians and Americans keep electing to government, If I wanted to do something and not let anyone know about it or catch me at it...I could, cameras or not, surveilance or not. You have to remember how inept these arseholes are...
Fubar, employers can monitor you at work in any manner they see fit, for the most part.
If someone is watching and/or spying on me and I find out, then I guess I'll just start to watch and spy on them right back..... before they realize it, all they're watching is me watching them and nothing is being done.... and then the fabric of time and space will rip.

All they'll see in their camera is me sitting in a chair, staring right back at them, eating a bag of chips, one at a time.... no other sound can be herd except me reaching into the bag and then slowly crunching down on one chip after another, refusing to blink for as long as possible and just keep staring at them.

Eventually they will either quit or go insane..... as for me, I'm already insane in the membrane.


Oh and when I figure out who they are, I'll goto their homes and place cameras and such in their homes, and then hook up their TV's and Computers to one giant live feed of me still sitting there eating my chips in a chair of silence...... forever staring at them. When they get up or move, with my cameras in place, I can follow my stare to wherever they go in the house and they can feel like they're being watched all the time too.

Last edited by Praxius; May 2nd, 2008 at 10:02 AM..
Facebook is spying on me. I was on-line last night, playing some stupid game, and it sent a notification to my facebook account, to inform all my friends that I'd been to their website to play their game. WTF!? That's just wrong.
Remember when Facebook got in crap for that additional plug in which allowed other friends on facebook to monitor your purchases? They could see what gifts you bought at a store, or just something you bought for yourself, and I guess a lot of people got a bit PO'd over that. The big problem was that it was an automatic thing and if you didn't want it to do that, you had to opt out, not the other way around where you install it and activate it if you wanted to.... it just did things without asking you.

I've been thinking over the last couple of months of removing pretty much any and all my information and details from Facebook (But keep the account to prevent identity theft, etc.)
Quote: Originally Posted by karrieView Post

Facebook is spying on me. I was on-line last night, playing some stupid game, and it sent a notification to my facebook account, to inform all my friends that I'd been to their website to play their game. WTF!? That's just wrong.

Karrie, if it was a facebook game you were playing, read the small print.
Quote: Originally Posted by DurkaDurkaView Post

Karrie, if it was a facebook game you were playing, read the small print.

It wasn't, it was a separate website from everything I could see. My facebook account wasn't even open. I'll look more later I suppose, but I was ticked.
Scott Free
I think you guys have pretty much missed the whole point of the article.

Before Hitler and Stalin began their purges people felt very much like you - who cares? I'm not doing anything wrong.

If we allow the infrastructure and social norms of surveillance into our culture then we are preparing the way for another madman.

This has nothing to do with people hiding things but has everything to do with people being allowed to have their own place in society free from suspicion and without threat of state violence.

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