Ottawa has come under fire recently with the Privacy Commissioner’s revealing report on spying being done on citizens with no real given purpose. Thanks to the detailed report, its hit the public spotlight that Canadian tax dollars spent on spying also includes snooping of Facebook profiles of individuals as well. Not only Facebook, but all popular social media outlets like Twitter are also included.
Facebook and personal profiles where people share intimate pictures and thoughts reserved for family and friends is not a place the government should be allowed to data mine. Private opinions are shared across these social media outlets and no one should give up that privacy. It is said that this current practice most likely does violate Canadian Privacy laws.
The government has attempted to defend the spying program by claiming all data collected is directly related to a program or activity of some sort that the agency is working on and that with some exceptions they would have to first disclose to the individual the reason for which they would be collecting data in the first place. As far as we know, not many of the 1 million or more requests per year came with a notification.
The truth is, even the Canadian Privacy Commissioner is not convinced that they have any good reason to collect all this information. The answers are not being provided by the officials. They have yet to explain what the spying program’s goals are, how they are achieved and if they are even viably doing what they are meant to do. It seems as if millions are being spent without need and the terrorist security excuse just does not cut it anymore. If they we’re only targeting illegal activity, the size of the operation and the costs would be much smaller, according to security experts.
When it comes to Facebook, although the information is made public by the users, it is only public for its intended audience, like a circle of friends. Therefore when the government claims it should have access to public information, it is playing on words, as a social media profile is only as public as the individual allows it to be. Additionally, it fundamentally goes against the Canadian Privacy Act made to protect the public. CBC Canada reported on the subject clearly indicating that the popular stance was to oppose such snooping.
You can also watch The Lang & O’Leary Exchange debate here, where Lang & O’Leary speak about Facebook snooping with William Robson, CEO of C.D. Howe Institute, Goldie Hyder, CEO of Hill & Knowlton Strategies and Steve Anderson, Executive Director of OpenMedia.ca. If you haven’t yet signed the petition to call out the Canadian Government on this tax dollar paid expensive spying program, make sure to head to it now.
If you live in Canada, then please check out our article on the best VPNs suited for your country.