Friday, May 29, 2015

A Book I'm Very Interested to Read. And You Can, Too - For Free

I just received this in my RSS feed:

This is just the sort of book I've been looking for - something that gives me an overview of the legal framework around and current state of government surveillance powers. I had seriously considered buying Craig Forcese's book, National Security Law - Canadian Practice in International Perspective, and I might yet do that, but Law, Privacy and Surveillance in Canada in the Post-Snowden Era has several advantages:
  • It's written by multiple authors, often specializing in the particular subtopic about which they're writing. (This may be true of National Security Law as well, I'm not sure)
  • It's up to date as of at least May 6th of this year. I saw a reference in one of the footnotes to the passage of C-51 through the House on May 6th. In other words, while it gives a historical context and legal analysis (most of the authors are lawyers or law professors) to current events, which usually means a few years delay, this book is very current. By comparison, Craig Forcese's book was written in 2007, and in order to get current, I'd have to read the book plus updates in his blog.
  • It's free. You could buy a paper or ebook format for $45, but it's also available for free under a Creative Commons share alike non-commercial license, as a PDF download, here.
I think both understanding Internet surveillance, and keeping this issue in people's minds until the October election, are important goals.  So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to read through this book, slowly and carefully, and post my thoughts, reactions, and things I've learned on this blog. I'm going to do it on a schedule that is not too arduous for me, or for anyone else with a busy life who wants to read along with me. There are 9 chapters, each about 30 pages long. I'll read one chapter every two weeks, posting about the first chapter two weeks from now. Here's the schedule:

Part I: Understanding Surveillance

June 13, 2015: Chapter I: Canadian Internet "Boomerang" traffic and Mass NSA Surveillance: Responding to Privacy and Network Sovereignty Challenges

June 27, 2015: Chapter II: Forgotten Surveillance: Covert Human Intelligence Sources in Canada in a Post-9/11 World

Part II: Legal Issues

July 11, 2015: Chapter III: Foreign Intelligence in an Inter-Networked World: Time for a Re-Evaluation

July 25, 2015: Chapter IV: Lawful Illegality: What Snowden Has Taught Us About the Legal Infrastructure of the Surveillance State

August 8, 2015: Chapter V: Law, Logarithms, and Liberties: Legal Issues Arising from CSE's Metadata Collection Initiatives

Part III: Reforms and Accountability

August 22, 2015: Chapter VI: Permanent Accountability Gaps and Partial Remedies

September 5, 2015: Chapter VII: The Failure of Official Accountability and the Rise of Guerilla Accountability

September 19, 2015: Chapter VIII: Why Watching the Watchers Isn't Enough: Canadian Suveillance Law in the Post-Snowden Era

October 3, 2015: Chapter IX: Stuck on the Agenda: Drawing Lessons from the Stagnation of "Lawful Access" Legislation in Canada

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Immediate Action Required: Contact your Senators

Hi all:

I haven't posted on here in a while, partially because I was discouraged by the 100% strictly partisan vote about C-51 in the House of Commons (not a single person in Parliament broke with their party's line on C-51). The idea that regardless of what their constituents said or what they personally might think, every single person who voted did so based on party affiliation, kind of sapped my motivation to post here for a while, plus the rest of my life has been busy, so without a really important message to write about, I didn't post. But now I do have something important to say.

The bill has passed the House, and been debated and reviewed in the Senate. The final vote in the Senate, which is the real true final vote before this bill becomes law, will occur any day now. And... some of the Liberal senators are going to vote against. As of this writing, there are 5 senators (some Liberal, some Conservative) who have declared they are voting for C-51, and 15 (all Liberal) who have declared they are voting against. And 62 who have not declared their intentions.

The Conservatives still have a majority, but if the Senate is less partisan than the House, given that there has been a strong backlash even within the Conservative base, there's a chance to stop the bill just short of the goal line, as happened with the original CSIS act in 1983. So what I'm asking you to do,  if you're reading this, is to tell any Senators in your province who are undeclared that it's important that they vote against. Please do it now rather than later.

Source of "5 for, 15 against, 62 undeclared", and also a tool for contacting your senators:

If you want your senators' full contact info, go here:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Vote Delayed One More Day - Final Vote Today

According to the transcript of yesterday's House proceedings, indexed on openparliament,ca:

 It being 5:30 p.m., pursuant to an order made earlier today, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion for third reading of Bill C-51 are deemed put and the recorded division is deemed to have been demanded and deferred until Wednesday, May 6, 2015, at the expiry of the time provided for government orders.
And according to the order paper for today, "the expiry of the time provided for government orders" looks like it means, at the latest, 5:30 PM, Ottawa time. Here is what time it is in Ottawa, so you can tell how that compares to your local time.

So that's how long you've got, before this bill gets voted on in the House for the final time. Speak to your MP now or forever hold your peace <-- not that. If this bill passes, don't forget that it happened. This law was made in a few months, and laws aren't forever, they can be unmade or changed by future governments when they don't make sense. I will be reposting the results of the vote, including who voted which way. There's an election soon. Hold your MPs accountable. They're there to represent you, not to just vote along party lines.

After the vote today, assuming it passes the House, the bill will still need to be voted on in the Senate. It could be stopped there, theoretically, but there's a Conservative majority there as well, so I'm not optimistic. But if it passes the House, I'll be talking to my province's Senators, and so should you.

Not sure who your MP is, or how to contact them? Find out here. They're just a phone call away.

Last night, I called Dominc Leblanc's office, and followed up with an e-mail (since it's hard to say exactly what you want to say on the spot while on the phone, and it's unlikely to be passed on accurately, because, well, there's a reason the game where one person says something to another who says something to another and it gets distorted is called "telephone".) The reason I contacted Dominc Leblanc's office is because:

  1. My MP already knows I exist, and has seen my presentation, and one of the people working in his office is following my blog. So, mission accomplished, there.
  2. Dominic Leblanc appears (from his parliamentary web page) to have a good deal of influence within the Liberal party, and they're the ones that are the swing voters in this situation. Also Elizabeth May suggested that he has some influence, in her presentation at St. Thomas University back in May.
  3. He's from New Brunswick, so as I'm a New Brunswick voter... I don't know how much difference that will make, actually, but it can't hurt.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

C-51 Being Pushed Through the House by Tuesday

Just had this delivered to my inbox...

That, in relation to Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and
That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Monday, we will conclude the report stage debate of Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. Our Conservative government takes all threats to the security of Canada and Canadians very seriously.
That is why we are moving forward with Bill C-51 and the crucial provisions contained in it to protect our national security. Third reading of this important bill will take place Tuesday.(source)
In other words, if you want to get something said or done about C-51 while it's still possible for your elected representatives to vote against it, your deadline is Tuesday. So talk to your MP, and communicate with as many other people as you can reach. Once it goes to the Senate, there's the possibility that it could be defeated, but I'm not optimistic.

If this bill passes, please don't forget that it happened and move on to other things. Come election time, remember. I will be posting who voted for and against, once the votes take place, so that you can hold your elected representative appropriately accountable (or make it a positive for them, electorally, to have voted against).