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Diverse groups put out hard-hitting video exposing how government spy agency has the power to monitor the everyday lives of innocent Canadians

Viral video released amid growing outrage at how government spy agencies like Canada’s CSEC and the U.S. NSA are collecting hugely revealing information on innocent citizens

September 22, 2014 – Government spying on law-abiding Canadians is secretive, expensive, and out-of-control. That’s the message of a hard-hitting video launched this morning by community-based OpenMedia.ca, which is leading a large, non-partisan national coalition calling for effective legal measures to safeguard Canadians from government spying.

The video reveals how information collected by government spy agency CSEC (Communications Security Establishment Canada) can expose intimate details about Canadians’ private lives, including their financial status, medical conditions, political and religious beliefs, and even their sexual orientation. CSEC was caught red-handed spying on thousands of innocent Canadian air travelers earlier this year.

The video was designed by Dafne Melania, an OpenMedia volunteer and graduate of Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Explaining why she got involved, Dafne said: "The project is a response to public apathy over online privacy. The aim was to raise awareness and encourage involvement against unchecked government surveillance in Canada."

“We’ve launched this new video to help inform Canadians about just how out-of-control CSEC’s spying on our private lives has become,” adds OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “Brave whistleblowers have exposed how CSEC is secretly spying on the private online activities of innocent citizens, and storing that information in giant, insecure, government databases. Experts, including Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner, have shown how this data can be used to build detailed portraits of our private lives, right down to our medical conditions and political leanings. Taxpayers are left to pick up the tab - we’re even on the hook for over $4.2 billion to build and operate a lavish new spy palace for CSEC.”

Anderson continued: “This government has left Canadians with a hugely worrying privacy deficit. They are still resisting sensible calls to reform CSEC while refusing to come clean about precisely how many Canadians have been swept up into their giant databases. Enough is enough - that’s why Canadians are sharing our video with their friends and networks today and why members of parliament from all parties would be wise to move forward with legal reforms to protect our privacy.”

Josh Paterson, Executive Director, B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said: “For more than a year, we have been shocked by revelation after revelation of governments’ mass spying on private citizens. There has been no meaningful action from Canada’s government to account for, or to stop mass suspicionless surveillance. We hope this video will encourage every Canadian to take seriously the very real dangers presented by surveillance, and unaccountable sharing of our personal information with foreign institutions. There is too much at stake here -- this is a fight we must not lose”.

“CSEC is flagrantly abusing the digital rights of Canadians, and doing so without any substantive oversight,” says Tom Henheffer, Executive Director of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. “With the fear of government surveillance eroding confidence in the ability to communicate privately, Canadians face a chill on free expression that threatens to shake the very foundations of our democracy. This situation must not stand.”

A series of revelations from journalist Glenn Greenwald and whistleblower Edward Snowden have exposed how CSEC has been undermining democracy at home while tarnishing Canada’s reputation overseas. It was revealed that CSEC spied on thousands of innocent Canadian air travellers, facilitated a massive U.S. spy operation on Canadian soil, monitored important Canadian trading partners at the behest of the U.S. NSA, and even spied on the private communications of Brazil’s energy ministry. Decision-makers from across the political spectrum are speaking out and calling for action. Proposed new legislation was recently announced that would take great strides toward reining in CSEC.

The video is being launched by OpenMedia in partnership with a range of organizations spanning the political spectrum including B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Canadian Access and Privacy Association, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, the Council of Canadians, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Dominion, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, the National Firearms Association, Rabble.ca, the Surveillance Studies Centre, the Tyee, and Voices-VOIX.

Canadians can keep in touch with the campaign to rein in CSEC by joining the Protect Our Privacy Coalition. The Coalition includes over 60 major organizations and over a dozen academic experts and is calling for effective legal measures to protect Canadians’ privacy from government spies. Over 40,000 Canadians have pledged their support to the Coalition at http://OurPrivacy.ca

OpenMedia.ca’s infographic on CSEC data collection can be found at: https://openmedia.ca/sites/openmedia.ca/files/Metadata_Infographic_CTA.png

About OpenMedia.ca

OpenMedia.ca is an award-winning community-based organization that safeguards the possibilities of the open Internet. We work toward informed and participatory digital policy by engaging hundreds of thousands of people in protecting our online rights.

Through campaigns such as StopTheMeter.ca and StopSpying.ca, OpenMedia.ca has engaged over half-a-million Canadians, and has influenced public policy and federal law.


David Christopher
Communications Manager, OpenMedia.ca
[email protected]

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.

Last October, OpenMedia.ca joined with over 50 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.

OpenMedia.ca and the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) recently announced they will work together to put a stop to illegal government surveillance against law-abiding Canadians. OpenMedia.ca has launched a national campaign encouraging Canadians to support a BCCLA legal action which aims to stop illegal spying by challenging the constitutionality of the government’s warrantless collection of data on Canadians’ everyday Internet use.

More Information

  • New Snowden docs show U.S. spied during G20 in Toronto. Source: CBC News
  • Five highlights from the Canada-Brazil spying revelations. [Source: The Globe and Mail]
  • 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.

OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet. Take action now

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