Michael Riordon

the view from where I live


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CSEC: We pay for it. It spies on us.

“An ultra-secretive government agency is collecting hugely revealing information on thousands of law-abiding Canadians.”

csec

Communications Security Establishment Canada.  We pay for it, they spy on us. That’s the deal.  They spy on all our communications, all the time: phone, email and internet, contacts, conversations, relationships, religious and political affiliations, medical records, financial transactions….

OpenMedia.ca is on the case.  But they can’t do it alone. The Canadian government needs to hear a very loud NO from everyone of us who cares.

David Lyon, world authority on surveillance and social control: “Indifference is appropriate only for those who think that efficiency, convenience and speed qualify as values to be placed over openness, fairness, and the accountability of those whose task it is to process personal data.”

Add your voice here: https://openmedia.ca/CSECisWatching?src=156782.

More on David Lyon, our very Transparent Lives and ‘social sorting’ in Bold ScientistsRead an excerpt here.

And pass it on, far and wide.


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1984 + 30

“The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control.”  – William Binney, July 5, at a conference in London, England, organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism.

big brother, watchingImage: Reality Uncovered

Binney, one of the highest-level whistleblowers to escape the US National Security Agency, was a leading code-breaker against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Soon after September 11, 2001, he resigned in protest against Washington’s embrace of mass surveillance.

“At least 80% of fibre-optic cables globally go via the US”, Binney told the conference. “This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in.”

All communication.  That means you and me.  Right now.

Details in The Guardian, UK, via Reader Supported News, here.

1984 + 30, and counting…

Surveil the surveillers in Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science, due September 2014 from Between the Lines.


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Friending Big Brother: Facebook & Drones

Mark Zuckerberg wants everyone to friend Facebook.  And the billionaire CEO of Facebook does mean everyone.

Recently he announced a grand new plan : internet.org, a consortium of corporations and government agencies that will harness an array of drones, satellites and other technologies to wrap the entire world in a vast global WiFi.

NSA & FacebookThe primary government partner? None other than the US National Security Agency.

This is beyond sinister, says writer/internet activist/organizer Alfredo Lopez.  “The NSA spies on everyone it can.  It collects all the data it can.  It has shown no respect for people’s rights or for constitutional restrictions.  It is a criminal organization and, under this plan, it would control Internet access for large parts of the world.”

So much easier than the cumbersome business of Facebook handing over our data to the NSA. Via internet.org they can both vacuum it up at the same time.

And note that drones, which already serve as Big Brother’s remote-control weapon of mass destruction, will be among the primary vehicles.

More depth and scary details here.

Follow the ever-deepening surveillance story in Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science, coming from Between the Lines, autumn 2014.


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The undead

The Harper regime’s online spying law is back.

In 2012, you may have joined a national campaign to block their highly invasive online spying legislation, Bill C-30.  The government claimed it would “help police combat child pornography.” But many critics, including the federal privacy commissioner, noticed the sweeping legislation would force internet service providers to maintain systems allowing police to intercept and track online communications without a warrant, effectively wiping out fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of speech.  The intent was clear: Increased powers for a surveillance-obsessed regime.

OpenMedia.ca led a national campaign to kill the Bill.  Internet censorshipIn February 2013, the federal Minister of Justice announced that the government “would not proceed” with Bill C-30.  “We’ve listened to the concerns of Canadians who have been very clear on this.”  Nor, he added, would the government pursue any other measures for “the warrantless mandatory disclosure of basic subscriber information or the requirement for telecommunications service providers to build intercept capability within their systems.”

Turns out they lied.

Now known as Bill C-13, the undead spy bill is back.  Now they claim it’s to fight cyberbullying.  A good thing to fight.  But it’s a cover.  Bill C-13 consists of just 2.5 pages aimed at cyberbullying, and 65 pages aimed at making it easier for the government to spy on the online activities of all Canadians.  These provisions are lifted straight from Bill C-30.   Micheal Vonn, BC Civil Liberties Association: “This is not a bill about cyberbullying.  It’s a bill essentially to reintroduce most of the components of Bill C-30, despite the government’s assurances that they would not do so.”

It’s not too late to join the resistance.  Here’s how.

(Follow this story in What next? Doing science in dangerous times.  Coming in 2014 from Between the Lines.)


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Drones: coming home to roost?

Drone adRemote-controlled drones are used for aerial surveillance and assassination of designated enemies.  Until recently most of the targets have been at a safe remove, over there where other people live.  Now drones operate over the United States, and they will soon be flying over our heads in Canada.

In addition to military duties, drones will also do a range of civilian tasks in Canada.  Profit potential is considered to be quite exciting.

Dazzling leaps in science and technology tend to obscure uncomfortable questions about control and consequence.  David Lyon has built a career on asking such questions.  I met Professor Lyon, an international authority on surveillance and identification systems, at his office in Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.  With quiet intensity he detailed what he sees and thinks, and what questions arise.  For example:

“Several companies are setting up just now to manufacture drones in Canada – clearly they believe they can corner some part of this expanding market.  Primarily they would produce surveillance drones, but even those raise significant questions.  If you look at their marketing materials, they want to provide drones for private security companies to scan public events – sporting events, political demonstrations, picket lines, that sort of thing.  These drones would operate in conjunction with facial recognition technology, generating very precise high-resolution images.  This raises deeply important moral and ethical questions – or at least it ought to – for example about the kinds of things this technology allows us to do from a great distance, remotely, with impunity.*  How do such vital questions go missing so easily?  How have we managed to create a world like this?”

Dreams in Infrared: The Woes of an American Drone Operator.  Spiegel Online International, 12/14/2012.

Transport Canada looks at loosening restrictions on unmanned aerial vehicles.  CBC News, August 2012.

The Coming Drone Attack on America.  The Guardian UK, 22 December 2012.

Protect global internet freedom: OpenMedia.ca.

Liquid Surveillance: A Conversation.  Zygmunt Bauman and David Lyon, 2012.