Tag Archives: Civil Liberties

Stephen Harper Silent On Security Certificates

Thoughts:

- Stephen Harper hates everything that Pierre Trudeau accomplished as Prime Minister. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was his greatest achievement. Stephen Harper may or may not be conscious of this but he is more than willing to ignore the charter (see his law and order related policies) and that may be justified in his mind because it was created by Trudeau.

- The Liberals are the only party talking about civil liberties but with bill C-15 their record is mixed. Mark Holland is doing a great job in this portfolio.

- Stephen Harper has repeatedly failed to protect Canadians being held overseas. He has also ignored judge’s orders before. The issue of Civil Liberties needs to be covered more by the MSM as the Conservatives have a terrible record on accountability (The Budget office having no budget for example) but no one seems to be paying attention.
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OTTAWA – The Harper Conservatives risk losing public faith in our anti-terrorism laws unless they explain to Canadians why powers designed to protect the public from terrorism were abused, Liberal Public Safety & National Security Critic Mark Holland said today.

Mr. Holland was commenting on the revelation that, for the second time in as many months, Canada’s spy agency was found to have withheld evidence from a federal court judge regarding the arrest of a foreign national being held on a national security certificate.

“Liberals have been clear that enforcement and application of our anti-terrorism laws must always comply with the rule of law and respect our Charter of Rights, so that no individuals or groups are subject to discriminatory treatment,” said Mr. Holland. “We now have two clear cases where CSIS failed to live up to their responsibility to share the full story with the court.”

Letters written by a federal court judge concerning security certificate hearings against Hassan Almrei show that the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service wrongly claimed that one informant had taken a lie-detector test, while failing to disclose that another informant had been “deceptive.” In May, CSIS was criticized for withholding damaging polygraph results for a key government source in a hearing against Mohamed Harkat.

“Protecting Canadians from terrorism cannot come at the cost of trampling on the civil liberties that we hold so dear,” said Mr. Holland. “We need to know why those entrusted with upholding our national security have abused their responsibility to provide the federal court with full disclosure behind the scenes.”

Under Canada’s anti-terrorism laws, foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorist activities can be arrested if a federal judge orders a national security certificate following secret hearings where matters of national security are disclosed. The discovery of withheld or incorrect evidence comes following amendments to Canada’s anti-terrorism laws made in 2008 which allows for “special advocates” to represent terror suspects in secret hearings. These amendments were supported by Liberal MPs only after guarantees were made in law that no evidence that may have been obtained through torture would be admissible in the hearings.

“The Harper Conservatives owe Canadians an explanation on why these men have been detained for so long on the basis of incomplete evidence,” concluded Mr. Holland. “People everywhere are entitled to live in peace and security, but these freedoms must never come at the expense of anyone’s right to due process and a fair hearing.”

The Conservative Party of Canada Really Doesn’t Like Civil Liberties

Thoughts:
- “Sweeping new powers” is a term most associated with dictators. One is temped to automatically go to the Orwell cliches when talking about Civil Liberties. The Harper government would never have a “Ministry of Love” (love isn’t a Conservative value) but with security certificates, de-funding movies for not having Canadian values, and bills giving the police the power to track people’s cellphones/car without a warrant they aren’t making Canada a police but Stephen Harper is undercutting the constitution and creating a “ends justifies the means” society.

- “Internet service providers will also be forced to install monitoring technology on their servers to keep track of their users’ online activities.” Just like China and Iran.

- “In 2007, public safety minister Stockwell Day said the government would not force ISPs to hand over personal information about their users to police without a warrant. Yesterday, though, the government proposed exactly that.” Just like the income trust taxation.

- This bill was proposed with good intentions but the problem is there is no oversight. There is nothing to prevent the police from abusing this power. It is overly pessimistic to assume the police will automatically abuse that power but law is pragmatic and should have pragmatic oversight.

- “It can’t be used … to randomly go through people’s Internet and e-mail records trolling for things,” he said. “That raises all kinds of concerns.” You can’t search a house without a warrant, why should you be able to search there internet records?

- Law must keep up with technology so there is a temptation to give “sweeping new powers” with the hope that you can outpace criminals who use new technology. Law has to think about everyone in society: the criminal, the law enforcement, the victim and the innocent person. These new laws don’t consider 3 of the 4.
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Tories seek to widen police access online

Police will have sweeping new powers to collect information about Canadian Internet users without a warrant, and activate tracking devices in their cellphones and cars under legislation proposed by the Conservative government yesterday and criticized by privacy advocates as excessive.

If the government’s latest shot at introducing “lawful access” legislation – something successive governments have tried but failed to do for the past decade or so – succeeds, Internet service providers will also be forced to install monitoring technology on their servers to keep track of their users’ online activities.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan yesterday introduced two bills – the Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act and the Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act – just before the House of Commons empties out until the fall session.

“We must provide our law enforcement with the tools they need to keep our communities safe,” Mr. Van Loan said. “This is a great day for the victims and their families who have been long calling for these legislative changes, and those who work tirelessly every day to ensure that when there is a threat to safety, police can intervene quickly.”

However, critics point out that the onus is on law enforcement agencies to explain why they need these new powers.

“Nobody wants to create roadblocks for law enforcement, but there has been no evidence put forward that the current system has created any barriers, and I think it raises real concern where there is potential for abuse,” said Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa who holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce law. “That’s why you have court oversight.”

Mr. Geist noted that some major police investigations in the past few years – including the arrest of 18 Toronto-area terrorism suspects in 2006 – was very much dependent on the Internet, and progressed even under current legislation.

The bills introduced by the Conservative government yesterday are in some ways an evolution of an issue that began about a decade ago, when the Liberals tried to introduce similar legislation.

In 2007, public safety minister Stockwell Day said the government would not force ISPs to hand over personal information about their users to police without a warrant. Yesterday, though, the government proposed exactly that.

Liberal MP and public safety critic Mark Holland said police have to be able to keep up with criminals using new technologies, but added that any legislation must also weigh the impact on Canadians’ privacy.

“It can’t be used … to randomly go through people’s Internet and e-mail records trolling for things,” he said. “That raises all kinds of concerns.”

But the proposed legislation appears to have at least one loophole. Because the cost of installing tracking technology is so high, large ISPs will be required to do it, but smaller service providers will get three years to comply fully. Therefore, for years to come, some ISPs will be able to monitor their customers’ activities and some won’t.

An RCMP spokesman declined to speak about the announcement, saying the force doesn’t comment on proposed legislation. Chief Constable Jim Chu of the Vancouver Police Department issued a statement praising the bills. “We are pleased that this new legislation modernizes the law so that it keeps pace with the advances in telecommunications technologies,” he said. “The laws being updated were originally written in the era of rotary phones.”

A Bell spokeswoman said yesterday that the company has a long history of working with law enforcement agencies, but added that the government should recognize “the unique and disproportionate burden and responsibility placed on the telecom sector as a subset of the larger business community,” and that the costs of policing shouldn’t be shifted entirely to one industry. “Lawful access requirements should not stifle innovation, or unduly impede or delay our roll-out of new products and services, including extension of voice and broadband service to underserved communities,” she said.

Germany: “Will Someone Please Think Of The Children!”

Thoughts:

- Laws like this take the onus off of parents to be responsible. If you raise your child properly then they should be able to decipher what is right and wrong in reality

- Video games seem like a fairly arbitrary thing to blame. This also begs the question: what if murderers listen to a certain kind of music? Can we ban that?

- Germany is notorious for banning things (some good like fascist political parties and others bad) but they will be setting a bad precedent if they go through with this.

- This reminds me of when Hillary Clinton was attacking “Grand Theft Auto” a few years back.”

- Let’s hope no one in the Harper government understands German. They really dislike civil liberties.
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All violent video games to be banned in Germany

German ministers have today agreed to ban the production and distribution of all violent video games, with the law only having to go through parliament in the next few weeks.

According to German website Chip Online and supported by Spiegel Online, ministers of the interior of all sixteen German federal states came together for a conference today in Bremerhaven where they agreed to forbid the production and distribution of all video games “where the main part is to realistically play the killing of people or other cruel or inhumane acts of violence against humans or manlike characters.”

The country has been infamously hard on violent video games before now, but an outright ban would result in a huge loss for the video games industry in one of its most successful European countries.

The law would result in no Call of Duty, no God of War, no Crysis, no World of Warcraft, no BioShock, no Uncharted, and no Grand Theft Auto.

Moreover, since a ban on the production of violent games would also be included in the law, German studios, such as Crytek, would have to outsource development to other countries.

The law is hoped to come into effect before the country’s federal elections in September. The minister of the interior of Lower Saxony commented:

“Violent games lower the inhibition level for real violence and spree killers have again and again played such before they did the crime.”

Note the second part of that sentence: “spree killers have again and again played such before they did the crime.” That’s quite a statement; one we expect they’d like to support with the German school shootings on March 11th, which were linked to Counterstrike and Far Cry 2.

For the law to become a reality it must go through parliament in the next few weeks or months. We’ll keep you posted and hope the ministers are just blowing smoke.

[UPDATE] – It has been pointed out that our translation of the minister of Lower Saxony’s comment is not entirely accurate, where “spree killers always played such games before they did the crime” should be changed to either “spree killers have again and again played such games.” We apologize for the mis-translation.