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Digital surveillance won't drive me off social media: Lauren O’Neil – Community – CBC News

Digital surveillance won’t drive me off social media: Lauren O’Neil – Community – CBC News.

CBC social media producer is an avowed ‘internet addict’

By Lauren O’Neil, CBC News Posted: Mar 07, 2014 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 07, 2014 5:00 AM ET

Lauren O'Neil is a producer on the Community desk of CBC News and a self-professed 'internet addict.'Lauren O’Neil is a producer on the Community desk of CBC News and a self-professed ‘internet addict.’ (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

I was 12 years old when I published my first blog post.

 

It was 1996 and, at the time, my biggest concern was that one of my parents would pick up the phone and kill our 14K modem’s connection to the internet while I was uploading images.

 

The concept of digital privacy didn’t even register in my mind – I was simply thrilled to put my thoughts and face on the web for the entire world to see.

 

A lot has changed since then, technologically speaking, but my desire to share my life online has never wavered. In fact, it’s only grown stronger with the advent of social networks, micro-blogging and, most significantly, smartphones.

 

Today, I live out much of my personal life through my iPhone and laptop. I communicate with my friends through Facebook Messenger, post photos of my daily adventures on Instagram and even publish blog posts through WordPress while I’m on the streetcar sometimes.

‘As this project shows, I’m revealing quite a bit more [about myself] than I’d expected.’– CBC News social media producer Lauren O’Neil

 

I tweet out jokes, musings, fun links and photos constantly – almost compulsively – and probably upload more selfies than is considered socially acceptable. I’ve also got a YouTube channel, a Tumblr blog, multiple Gmail addresses and accounts with Google+, Rdio, SoundCloud, Netflix, Pinterest and Foursquare.

 

As an associate producer on the Community desk for CBC News, I write multiple blog posts a day, host a weekly online chat show and sometimes appear on television to speak about internet-related things.

 

When my colleagues approached me to take part in a project tracking my daily surveillance habits, I was curious to see just how much information I’m giving away. Suffice it to say, I’m quite comfortable putting myself out there.

 

What I’m not comfortable with is the idea of anyone gaining access to information I haven’t explicitly made public – and as this project shows, I’m revealing quite a bit more than I’d expected.

 

The extent of online tracking

 

When I was first told about this project, I assumed that my online activity was being tracked at least a little bit.

 

I understood that leaving my iPhone’s GPS on would geolocate my Instagram photos, that checking into the gym on Foursquare could activate nearby marketing promotions and that third-party Twitter apps had access to my email address and other data I’d provided.

 

Surveillance interactiveClick on the graphic above to see an interactive on how we are digitally tracked on a daily basis. (CBC)

 

 

I was even aware that Facebook was selling my data to marketers – hey, that’s the price you pay for a free (and, to my mind, essential) service.

 

What shocked me was how much of my personal, private information could be accessed by the government and corporations through simple activities such as buying a coffee or checking my RSS feed over breakfast.

 

Every email and tweet I send contains metadata such as the date, time and subject of the message, as well as the IP address from which it was sent. With the amount of personal data I push through my iPhone every hour, it means I could be tracked down at almost any time of the day.

It’s scary to think about what could happen if that information came into the wrong hands.

 

Something else I’d never really considered was how vulnerable I was making myself by using public Wi-Fi networks, which can be insecure. Sure, I might save a few bucks on my wireless bill, but is it worth the risk of giving third-party corporations or even malicious hackers access to my data?

 

Participating in this project has opened my eyes to how much information I’m involuntarily sharing with marketers, the Canadian government and potentially even U.S. authorities.

 

But while privacy is important to me, so is communicating with my peers, having a creative outlet and contributing to the online culture I so deeply love and respect.

 

Without sharing so much of my life through the Internet, I wouldn’t be where I am professionally. I’d also have missed out on some of great social, creative and career opportunities.

 

The rewards outweigh the risks… for now. That said, I’ll definitely be turning off my iPhone’s GPS function. It’s a small but necessary step.

Digital surveillance won’t drive me off social media: Lauren O’Neil – Community – CBC News

Digital surveillance won’t drive me off social media: Lauren O’Neil – Community – CBC News.

CBC social media producer is an avowed ‘internet addict’

By Lauren O’Neil, CBC News Posted: Mar 07, 2014 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 07, 2014 5:00 AM ET

Lauren O'Neil is a producer on the Community desk of CBC News and a self-professed 'internet addict.'Lauren O’Neil is a producer on the Community desk of CBC News and a self-professed ‘internet addict.’ (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

I was 12 years old when I published my first blog post.

 

It was 1996 and, at the time, my biggest concern was that one of my parents would pick up the phone and kill our 14K modem’s connection to the internet while I was uploading images.

 

The concept of digital privacy didn’t even register in my mind – I was simply thrilled to put my thoughts and face on the web for the entire world to see.

 

A lot has changed since then, technologically speaking, but my desire to share my life online has never wavered. In fact, it’s only grown stronger with the advent of social networks, micro-blogging and, most significantly, smartphones.

 

Today, I live out much of my personal life through my iPhone and laptop. I communicate with my friends through Facebook Messenger, post photos of my daily adventures on Instagram and even publish blog posts through WordPress while I’m on the streetcar sometimes.

‘As this project shows, I’m revealing quite a bit more [about myself] than I’d expected.’– CBC News social media producer Lauren O’Neil

 

I tweet out jokes, musings, fun links and photos constantly – almost compulsively – and probably upload more selfies than is considered socially acceptable. I’ve also got a YouTube channel, a Tumblr blog, multiple Gmail addresses and accounts with Google+, Rdio, SoundCloud, Netflix, Pinterest and Foursquare.

 

As an associate producer on the Community desk for CBC News, I write multiple blog posts a day, host a weekly online chat show and sometimes appear on television to speak about internet-related things.

 

When my colleagues approached me to take part in a project tracking my daily surveillance habits, I was curious to see just how much information I’m giving away. Suffice it to say, I’m quite comfortable putting myself out there.

 

What I’m not comfortable with is the idea of anyone gaining access to information I haven’t explicitly made public – and as this project shows, I’m revealing quite a bit more than I’d expected.

 

The extent of online tracking

 

When I was first told about this project, I assumed that my online activity was being tracked at least a little bit.

 

I understood that leaving my iPhone’s GPS on would geolocate my Instagram photos, that checking into the gym on Foursquare could activate nearby marketing promotions and that third-party Twitter apps had access to my email address and other data I’d provided.

 

Surveillance interactiveClick on the graphic above to see an interactive on how we are digitally tracked on a daily basis. (CBC)

 

 

I was even aware that Facebook was selling my data to marketers – hey, that’s the price you pay for a free (and, to my mind, essential) service.

 

What shocked me was how much of my personal, private information could be accessed by the government and corporations through simple activities such as buying a coffee or checking my RSS feed over breakfast.

 

Every email and tweet I send contains metadata such as the date, time and subject of the message, as well as the IP address from which it was sent. With the amount of personal data I push through my iPhone every hour, it means I could be tracked down at almost any time of the day.

It’s scary to think about what could happen if that information came into the wrong hands.

 

Something else I’d never really considered was how vulnerable I was making myself by using public Wi-Fi networks, which can be insecure. Sure, I might save a few bucks on my wireless bill, but is it worth the risk of giving third-party corporations or even malicious hackers access to my data?

 

Participating in this project has opened my eyes to how much information I’m involuntarily sharing with marketers, the Canadian government and potentially even U.S. authorities.

 

But while privacy is important to me, so is communicating with my peers, having a creative outlet and contributing to the online culture I so deeply love and respect.

 

Without sharing so much of my life through the Internet, I wouldn’t be where I am professionally. I’d also have missed out on some of great social, creative and career opportunities.

 

The rewards outweigh the risks… for now. That said, I’ll definitely be turning off my iPhone’s GPS function. It’s a small but necessary step.

Hidden Camera Investigation Uncovers ‘Atrocious’ Investment Advice

Hidden Camera Investigation Uncovers ‘Atrocious’ Investment Advice.

As RRSP season closes and many Canadians prepare for tax time, a CBC Marketplace investigation reveals that financial advisers at some of Canada’s top banks and firms are giving consumers inaccurate, misleading and inappropriate advice.

Meanwhile, consumers face a complicated patchwork of regulatory bodies if they want to complain about bad investment advice, as some investor rights groups call for more robust consumer protection rules.

Since a third of Canadians rely on advisers to help them make financial decisions, Marketplace sent a person wearing hidden cameras to visit the five big banks and five popular investment firms in Ontario. The full investigation, Show Me The Money, reveals how individual banks and firms performed. The show, including practical tips on how to hire a financial adviser, airs Friday at 8:00 p.m. (8:30 p.m. NL) on CBC Television.

“That’s one of the worst pieces of advice I’ve ever heard in my life,” financial analyst and former adviser Preet Banerjee told Marketplace co-host Erica Johnson when shown hidden camera footage of one of the tests. “That was atrocious. That’s the only word to describe that advice.”

Hidden camera investigation

The tests revealed a wide range in the quality of advisers. Some performed well, giving clear answers and asking appropriate questions about the tester’s financial situation and risk tolerance. Other interactions, however, Banerjee found troubling.

In some cases, information was incorrect or misleading – even in response to direct questions, such as how fees are calculated. Some gave unrealistic promises about returns, including one adviser who said that a $50,000 investment should increase by $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 in one year.

Others failed to adequately assess the customer’s risk profile, which advisers are supposed to use to ascertain the suitability of investment products they recommend to a person.

In an unusual twist, one firm tried to recruit the Marketplace tester to become an adviser herself. While some designations and certifications do require training, and individuals have to be licensed to sell specific products, “financial adviser” is not a protected term. There are currently about 100,000 advisers in Canada.

Several advisers in the Marketplace test neglected to include any conversation of paying down debt in their financial advice, which Banerjee says reveals a conflict of interest that most consumers don’t consider as they’re weighing the recommendations of an adviser.

“If you invest there’s a commission involved with that, or a percentage of assets,” he said. “But if you pay down debt, there’s no financial incentive for the adviser to do that. So that’s one of those conflicts of interests that people should know about.”

As a result of the Marketplace investigation, one firm suspended the employee and reported the behaviour to the regulatory body, the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).

Change coming slowly

The Marketplace test was similar to a broader mystery-shopper test in the UK by the Financial Services Authority. That test included 231 mystery shopping tests of investment advice at six major firms. The results of that test, made public last year, found that more than 25 per cent of investment advice was of poor quality because it was unsuitable or because the adviser did not collect enough information to be able to make the recommendations.

Ontario firms could face a test this year, as the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) conducts a mystery shop to determine the quality of investment advice. While the OSC declined to provide specific details about its test to Marketplace, the results are expected to become public later this year.

However, investor rights advocates are critical of slow-moving efforts to provide better consumer protection. In a letter to the OSC, the Investor Advisory Panel pressed for reform, including how fees are structured and how complaints are investigated. “We have debated, discussed and studied the issues and their solutions for many years. It is time for decisions that will lead to a more robust investor protection regime in Canada.”

Among the most pressing issues: Financial advisers are not in fact required to act in the client’s best interest.

“There’s a big debate raging about that very issue right now,” says Banerjee. “So, it seems in a couple of years they will be bound to do what’s in the client’s best interest. But right now that’s not actually regulation.”

That runs contrary to the very reason many Canadians turn to advisers in the first place.

“If you walk into a financial institution, I think the average person on the street assumes they’re going to have someone who’s going to take care of all their financial issues,” says Banerjee. “But on the other side of the desk, there’s a wide range of people that you could see. Some of them are just order-takers or salespeople and others are true financial planning professionals.”

Patchwork complaints process

For consumers struggling with the consequences of bad investment advice, a confusing patchwork of organizations oversee complaints, including IIROC, the Mutual Fund Dealers Association (MFDA) and provincial securities associations. Each body oversees different types of complaints, depending on the nature of the complaint or the type of product the adviser is licensed to sell.

The Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) also investigates complaints, but only for participating banks and firms. And OBSI has limited enforcement powers, offering only non-binding recommendations, so it’s entirely up to the bank or firm to decide whether or not to comply.

OBSI’s 2013 report, released this week, reveals a sharp increase in the number of banks and firms refusing to compensate investors for mistakes.

According to the report, banks and investment firms refused to pay back investors even when OBSI found wrongdoing in 10 cases last year. In total, investors were denied more than $1.3 million in restitution. The OBSI report called this trend “disappointing.”

Marketplace notified all of the banks and firms about the test and approached some for interviews, but all declined. Some viewed the test as an isolated incident; others vowed to investigate and take appropriate measures.

Election reform bill an affront to democracy, Marc Mayrand says – Politics – CBC News

Election reform bill an affront to democracy, Marc Mayrand says – Politics – CBC News.

By Susana Mas, CBC News Posted: Feb 08, 2014 7:00 AM ET Last Updated: Feb 08, 2014 7:00 AM ET

Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand says the government's proposed Fair Elections Act puts severe restrictions on the information he is able to communicate to the public.Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand says the government’s proposed Fair Elections Act puts severe restrictions on the information he is able to communicate to the public. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The government’s proposed overhaul of the Elections Act includes elements that constitute an affront to democracy, according to Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand.

In an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio’s The House, Mayrand said “my reading of the act is that I can no longer speak about democracy in this country.”

“I’m not aware of any electoral bodies around the world who can not talk about democracy,” Mayrand told host Evan Solomon.

The Fair Elections Act says it “limits the chief electoral officer’s power to provide information to the public.”

Under the proposed bill, the only role of the chief electoral officer would be to inform the public of when, where, and how to vote.

Elections Canada would be forbidden from launching ad campaigns encouraging Canadians to vote. Surveys and research would be forbidden under the new bill, Mayrand said.

“Most of the research will no longer be published because these are communications to the public.”

The chief electoral officer and the commissioner of Canada elections would also no longer be allowed to publish their reports, Mayrand said.

“These reports will no longer be available. In fact, not only not available. I don’t think it will be done at all.”

Voter turnout and legitimacy

At a time when voter turnout appears to have stagnated around the 60 per cent mark, this bill would take away efforts to increase voter turnout from the agency’s hands and leave it to would-be politicians to figure out.

Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre, who introduced the bill in Parliament on Tuesday, said candidates are better placed to get the vote out.

“Political candidates who are aspiring for office are far better at inspiring voters to get out and cast their ballot then are government bureaucracies,” ​Polievre told the Commons on Wednesday.

Persistent and declining voter turnout could undermine the legitimacy of an election’s outcome, warned Mayrand.

“Nobody owns [voter] turnout. I think it requires a collective, collaborative approach of the whole society.”

If [voter] turnout continues to decline at the pace it has been declining over the last 40 years… we’ll have questions about the legitimacy of our government and how representative they are,” Mayrand said.

Putting limits on the chief electoral watchdog, would also mean the end of Elections Canada’s participation in outreach programs for youth.

Mayrand said he would no longer be able to take part in Student Vote, a national program that allows 300,000 students who are not yet of voting age to vote in a parallel election.

All these limitations ought to give Canadians pause for concern, Mayrand said. “It’s something that should be worrisome.”

“I don’t think it reflects a model democracy that Canadians aspire to.”

Creating an independent commissioner

Polievre defended the bill, telling the Commons it would give a new independent commissioner “sharper teeth, a longer reach, and a freer hand.”

Mayrand said he would have liked to see the bill give the elections watchdog the power to compel witnesses to testify, a problem Elections Canada faced when investigating robocalls made during the last federal election.

“It’s a bit disappointing,” Mayrand said.

He also would have liked to see the bill give the chief electoral officer the authority to compel political parties and their riding associations to provide Elections Canada with financial documentation to support their financial returns.

“It would make it easier to follow the money in the system.”

“Right now we get an overall report stating expenditures of parties during campaigns… we don’t have the supporting documents that attest to those expenditures, for example. So it makes it very difficult to carry a complete compliance review of those returns,” Mayrand said.

Mayrand, who says he was not consulted on the bill, hopes members of Parliament will take the time necessary to study it at committee and consult with Canadians.

On Thursday, the government invoked time allocation, putting a limit on the amount of time members of Parliament can spend debating the new bill.

Mayrand publicly spoke about the bill for the first time on Thursday, when he defended himself against accusations of partisanship, following a committee meeting on Parliament Hill.

The chief electoral officer, like the auditor-general or the privacy commissioner, reports directly to Parliament and as such is independent of the government of the day and all political parties.

Managing the growing conversation at CBCNews.ca – Editor’s Blog

Managing the growing conversation at CBCNews.ca – Editor’s Blog.

by Jennifer McGuire Posted: January 30, 2014 4:55 PM Last Updated: January 30, 2014 5:27 PM

Commenting-hi.jpg

(iStock)

Something amazing has been happening in the CBC News commenting community over the last 6 months. The number of people commenting and the number of comments being posted has been growing exponentially. More and more Canadians are choosing CBCNews.ca as their destination to discuss the news that affects them on a daily basis. This is incredible engagement with audiences. In fact, in the last six months, the volume of comments has doubled. CBC News reporting and story-telling is increasingly becoming the starting point for national conversation.

With this good news, comes a challenge. The financial cost of moderating our comments increases as the volume of comments goes up.  It’s a good challenge to have, but something we can’t ignore. That’s why we’ve been experimenting with strategies for managing the number of comments moderated on discussion threads on CBCNews.ca stories.

You may have noticed fewer stories with comments open.  We are also only opening comments on any given story for one day. And if a new story is filed on a story that already has open comments, we are closing off the old discussion and starting again on the latest news. We have also been experimenting with reactive moderation on some stories. Reactive moderation means all comments get published but when the community flags a comment they’re looked at by a moderator.

We recognize it’s a work in progress. As a public broadcaster, we must be mindful that we are managing our bottom line responsibly. We also need to manage our legal risk, and we want to ensure our comment boards are a welcoming and respectful space for all Canadians.

As we move forward we will do our best to be transparent and keep you informed about the changes in our commenting community. We are proud to say that CBC News has the largest and most thoughtful commenting community in Canada and we value its members — you — highly.  We want CBC News to remain the go-to place for Canadians who want to have a meaningful discussion about the stories and issues that are important to them and make a difference in their lives.

We welcome your feedback on these and any changes we make.

CSEC used airport Wi-Fi to track Canadian travellers: Edward Snowden documents – Politics – CBC News

CSEC used airport Wi-Fi to track Canadian travellers: Edward Snowden documents – Politics – CBC News.

Privacy and security experts on CSEC

Privacy and security experts on CSEC 2:32

Airport Wi-Fi used to track Canadians

Airport Wi-Fi used to track Canadians 4:16

About The Author

Photo of Greg Weston

Greg Weston
National Affairs Specialist

Greg Weston is an investigative reporter and a regular political commentator on CBC Radio and Television. Based in Ottawa, he has afflicted governments of all stripes for over three decades. His investigative work has won awards including the coveted Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism. He is also the author of two best-selling books, Reign of Error and The Stopwatch Gang.

A top secret document retrieved by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowdenand obtained by CBC News shows that Canada’s electronic spy agency used information from the free internet service at a major Canadian airport to track the wireless devices of thousands of ordinary airline passengers for days after they left the terminal.

After reviewing the document, one of Canada’s foremost authorities on cyber-security says the clandestine operation by the Communications Security Establishment Canada ( CSEC) was almost certainly illegal.

Ronald Deibert told CBC News: “I can’t see any circumstance in which this would not be unlawful, under current Canadian law, under our Charter, under CSEC’s mandates.”

The spy agency is supposed to be collecting primarily foreign intelligence by intercepting overseas phone and internet traffic, and is prohibited by law from targeting Canadians or anyone in Canada without a judicial warrant.

As CSEC chief John Forster recently stated: “I can tell you that we do not target Canadians at home or abroad in our foreign intelligence activities, nor do we target anyone in Canada.

“In fact, it’s prohibited by law. Protecting the privacy of Canadians is our most important principle.”

But security experts who have been apprised of the document point out the airline passengers in a Canadian airport were clearly in Canada.

CSEC said in a written statement to CBC News that it is “mandated to collect foreign signals intelligence to protect Canada and Canadians. And in order to fulfill that key foreign intelligence role for the country, CSEC is legally authorized to collect and analyze metadata.”

Metadata reveals a trove of information including, for example, the location and telephone numbers of all calls a person makes and receives — but not the content of the call, which would legally be considered a private communication and cannot be intercepted without a warrant.

“No Canadian communications were (or are) targeted, collected or used,” the agency says.

In the case of the airport tracking operation, the metadata apparently identified travelers’ wireless devices, but not the content of calls made or emails sent from them.

Black Code

Diebert is author of the book Black Code: Inside the Battle for Cyberspace, which is about internet surveillance, and he heads the world-renowned Citizen Lab cyber research program at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.

He says that whatever CSEC calls it, the tracking of those passengers was nothing less than an “indiscriminate collection and analysis of Canadians’ communications data,” and he could not imagine any circumstances that would have convinced a judge to authorize it.

Cellphone-travelA passenger checks his cellphone while boarding a flight in Boston in October. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued new guidelines under which passengers will be able to use electronic devices from the time they board to the time they leave the plane, which will also help electronic spies to keep tabs on them. (Associated Press)

The latest Snowden document indicates the spy service was provided with information captured from unsuspecting travellers’ wireless devices by the airport’s free Wi-Fi system over a two-week period.

Experts say that probably included many Canadians whose smartphone and laptop signals were intercepted without their knowledge as they passed through the terminal.

The document shows the federal intelligence agency was then able to track the travellers for a week or more as they — and their wireless devices — showed up in other Wi-Fi “hot spots” in cities across Canada and even at U.S. airports.

That included people visiting other airports, hotels, coffee shops and restaurants, libraries, ground transportation hubs, and any number of places among the literally thousands with public wireless internet access.

The document shows CSEC had so much data it could even track the travellers back in time through the days leading up to their arrival at the airport, these experts say.

While the documents make no mention of specific individuals, Deibert and other cyber experts say it would be simple for the spy agency to have put names to all the Canadians swept up in the operation.

All Canadians with a smartphone, tablet or laptop are “essentially carrying around digital dog tags as we go about our daily lives,” Deibert says.

Anyone able to access the data that those devices leave behind on wireless hotspots, he says, can obtain “extraordinarily precise information about our movements and social relationships.”

Trial run for NSA

The document indicates the passenger tracking operation was a trial run of a powerful new software program CSEC was developing with help from its U.S. counterpart, the National Security Agency.

In the document, CSEC called the new technologies “game-changing,” and said they could be used for tracking “any target that makes occasional forays into other cities/regions.”

Sources tell CBC News the technologies tested on Canadians in 2012 have since become fully operational.

CSEC claims “no Canadian or foreign travellers’ movements were ‘tracked,'” although it does not explain why it put the word “tracked” in quotation marks.

Deibert says metadata is “way more powerful that the content of communications. You can tell a lot more about people, their habits, their relationships, their friendships, even their political preferences, based on that type of metadata.”

The document does not say exactly how the Canadian spy service managed to get its hands on two weeks’ of travellers’ wireless data from the airport Wi-Fi system, although there are indications it was provided voluntarily by a “special source.”

The country’s two largest airports — Toronto and Vancouver — both say they have never supplied CSEC or other Canadian intelligence agency with information on passengers’ Wi-Fi use.

Alana Lawrence, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Airport Authority, says it operates the free Wi-Fi there, but does “not in any way store any personal data associated with it,” and has never received a request from any Canadian intelligence agency for it.

A U.S.-based company, Boingo, is the largest independent supplier of Wi-Fi services at other Canadian airports, including Pearson International in Toronto.

Spokesperson Katie O’Neill tells CBC News: “To the best of our knowledge, [Boingo] has not provided any information about any of our users to the Canadian government, law enforcement or intelligence agencies.”

It is also unclear from the document how CSEC managed to penetrate so many wireless systems to see who was using them — specifically, to know every time someone targeted at the airport showed up on one of those other Wi-Fi networks elsewhere.

Deibert and other experts say the federal intelligence agency must have gained direct access to at least some of the country’s main telephone and internet pipelines, allowing the mass-surveillance of Canadian emails and phone calls.

‘Blown away’

Ontario’s privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian says she is “blown away” by the revelations.

“It is really unbelievable that CSEC would engage in that kind of surveillance of Canadians. Of us.

“I mean that could have been me at the airport walking around… This resembles the activities of a totalitarian state, not a free and open society.”

 Ann CavoukianPrivacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian. (Colin Perkel/Canadian Press)

Experts say the document makes clear CSEC intended to share both the technologies and future information generated by it with Canada’s official spying partners — the U.S., Britain, New Zealand and Australia, the so-called Five Eyes intelligence network.

Indeed, the spy agency boasts in its leaked document that, in an apparently separate pilot project, it obtained access to two communications systems with more than 300,000 users, and was then able to “sweep” an entire mid-sized Canadian city to pinpoint a specific imaginary target in a fictional kidnapping.

The document dated May 2012 is a 27-page power-point presentation by CSEC describing its airport tracking operation.

While the document was in the trove of secret NSA files retrieved by Snowden, it bears CSEC’s logo and clearly originated with the Canadian spy service.

Wesley Wark, a renowned authority on international security and intelligence, agrees with Deibert.

“I cannot see any way in which it fits CSEC’s legal mandate.”

Wark says the document suggests CSEC was “trying to push the technological boundaries” in part to impress its other international counterparts in the Five-Eyes intelligence network.

“This document is kind of suffused with the language of technological gee-whiz.”

Wark says if CSEC’s use of “very powerful and intrusive technological tools” puts it outside its mandate and even the law, “then you are in a situation for democracy where you simply don’t want to be.”

Like Wark and other experts interviewed for this story, Deibert says there’s no question Canada needs CSEC to be gathering foreign intelligence, “but they must do it within a framework of proper checks and balances so their formidable powers can never be abused. And that’s the missing ingredient right now in Canada.”

The only official oversight of CSEC’s spying operations is a retired judge appointed by the prime minister, and reporting to the minister of defence who is also responsible for the intelligence agency.

“Here we clearly have an agency of the state collecting in an indiscriminate and bulk fashion all of Canadian communications and the oversight mechanism is flimsy at best,” Deibert says.

“Those to me are circumstances ripe for potential abuse.”

CSEC spends over $400 million a year, and employs about 2,000 people, almost half of whom are involved in intercepting phone conversations, and hacking into computer systems supposedly in other countries.

It has long been Canada’s most secretive spy agency, responding to almost all questions about its operations with reassurances it is doing nothing wrong.

Privacy watchdog Cavoukian says there has to be “greater openness and transparency because without that there can be no accountability.

“This trust-me model that the government is advancing and CSEC is advancing – ‘Oh just trust us, we’re doing the right thing, don’t worry’ — yes, worry! We have very good reason to worry.”

In the U.S., Snowden exposed massive metadata collection by the National Security Agency, which is said to have scooped up private phone and internet records of more than 100 million Americans.

A U.S. judge recently called the NSA’s metadata collection an Orwellian surveillance program that is likely unconstitutional.

The public furor over NSA snooping prompted a White House review of the American spy agency’s operations, and President Barack Obama recently vowed to clamp down on the collection and use of metadata.

Cavoukian says Canadians deserve nothing less.

“Look at the U.S. — they’ve been talking about these matters involving national security for months now very publicly because the public deserves answers.

“And that’s what I would tell our government, our minister of national defence and our prime minister: We demand some answers to this.”

Directing Conversations, Censorship, and Propaganda

Amerikan Democracy

Amerikan Democracy (Photo credit: Saint Iscariot)

One of the books I read recently is the classic, Propaganda, by Edward Bernays. I don’t recall what post or website I was on that referred to it but I thought it worth the read. I wanted to explore the concept of liberty and how manipulation of information by the elite could be weaved into my next book (Olduvai 2: Exodus).

As the writeup on Amazon states about Bernays and his book: “A seminal and controversial figure in the history of political thought and public relations, Edward Bernays (1891–1995), pioneered the scientific technique of shaping and manipulating public opinion, which he famously dubbed “engineering of consent.” During World War I, he was an integral part of the U.S. Committee on Public Information (CPI), a powerful propaganda apparatus that was mobilized to package, advertise and sell the war to the American people as one that would “Make the World Safe for Democracy.” The CPI would become the blueprint in which marketing strategies for future wars would be based upon. Bernays applied the techniques he had learned in the CPI and, incorporating some of the ideas of Walter Lipmann, became an outspoken proponent of propaganda as a tool for democratic and corporate manipulation of the population. His 1928 bombshell Propaganda lays out his eerily prescient vision for using propaganda to regiment the collective mind in a variety of areas, including government, politics, art, science and education. To read this book today is to frightfully comprehend what our contemporary institutions of government and business have become in regards to organized manipulation of the masses.”

On the advice of my marketing consultant for Olduvai, I have been more active in attempting to develop an ‘online personality and following.’ One of the ways I have been doing this is to comment on various news articles or opinion pieces that tie in to my book’s major themes (i.e. geopolitics, economy, energy, environment, liberty, etc.) via online comment sections of a limited number of media and theme-related websites, using my book cover as my avatar and adding my website address as a ‘signature’ at the bottom. It has proven to be remarkably effective in attracting readers to my website.

What I have noted is that a relatively small portion of my comments do not get past the ‘moderators’ at the two websites where I have done most of my posting, The Huffington Post: Canada (HPC) and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

When you sign up to participate in such online discussions, your comments must meet certain criteria (CBC’s policy here; HPC’s here). Some of the criteria are fairly specific and not really open to much debate as to what is acceptable and what is not. For example, you may add up to three external links to your post or use French if responding on Radio Canada’s site. Other criteria are open to some disagreement over what is acceptable and what is not. Comments may not be threatening, harrassing, or sexually explicit. Some, however, are open to such broad interpretation that almost any comment could be deemed to be in violation. You may not make repetitive comments, for example. But what defines repetitive? If you interpret the world through a particular lens, for example Christainity, you will very likely bring the concept of God or Christ into your comments. Or, as I tend to do now, your global schema may consider the concepts of exponential growth and energy depletion as fundamental to how you view events. Regardless, my point is that the latitude that is given to moderators allows for personal biases and interpretations to direct the online discussion of many of these websites. I have found that CBC ‘disables’ my comment but continues to show it via my personal profile. The Huffington Post simply ‘loses’ it in the internet ether somewhere, no online record of the comment is visible.

There appears to be at least a couple of different methods used by these corporations to steer conversations. The comment can be entirely ‘disallowed’ or it can be held in queue for an extended period of time while others get through and  then are posted far down the list, buried several pages in.

I also believe that some commentators are ‘blacklisted’ in the sense that their comments are not posted automatically but held up so that they may be moderated/censored more assiduously. I am certain that I am one of those whose comments have been flagged for greater scrutiny. I have sent communcation to both websites enquiring as to the process that is used, yet I have received no response to date (several weeks now).

The HPC’s flagging is quite interesting/humourous. For virtually every one of my posts, I get the message “Due to the potentially sensitive nature of this article, your comment may take longer to appear publicly.” It does not matter what the topic of the article is; apparently all articles have a ‘potentially sensitive nature’, even those in the sports section. Today (Jan. 30/14), I have been quite frustrated at not being able to challenge an article penned by Conrad Black in the HPC who argues that JP Morgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, has become a rich man due to his merit. I attempted to point out several instances of Mr. Dimon’s bank participating in market rigging, fraud, and corruption in order to boost their bottom line, but none of the posts got past the censors.

The conclusion I have reached is that these two sites  work to direct the online conversation, especially when certain assumptions are challenged. To be fair to CBC, often my comments are disabled due to me adding my signature (website address) to the bottom; when I resubmit without the website, the comment is usually posted. However, there is absoluetly no consistency here as many of my comments with my website address are posted. And, every once in a while one does not get posted regardless of the presence or not of my website address.

Bernays himself states the following in the book: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.” [An interesting sidebar to Bernays is that he worked with the American government to control the narrative of at least one government coup organised by the CIA: Guatemala (1957), where he worked with E. Howard Hunt a CIA operative associated with both the Kennedy assassination (eerily similar to the Guatamalan assassination) and Watergate.]

As Alex Jones’s website, InfoWars.com, suggests, there is a war on for your mind, and the corporate media is a large part of the propaganda campaign waged by the elite. Challenging biases, prejudices, assumptions, facts, opinions, etc. is important if we are to better understand the world and its complex isues. Disallowing such challenges through censorship serves only the status quo. As Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed states in his introduction to Censored 2013: Dispatches From the Media Revolution, it is important “to uncover and showcase news stories, in the public interest, that have been ignored, misreported, or simply censored by the  so-called ‘mainstream,’ but more accurately, the corporate media.” It seems it will only be through independent media and bloggers that people will gain a broader perspective of world events and narratives. It will not be through the elite and their corporate media.

Why is this so? I defer to Murray Rothbard in his essay, Anatomy of the State: “…the State is that organization in society which
 attempts to maintain a monopoly of force and violence in a given territorial 
area….[it] provides a legal, orderly, systematic channel for the predation of 
private property; it renders certain, secure, and relatively ‘peaceful’ the 
lifeline of the parastic caste in society…[and] the majority must be 
persuaded by ideology that their government is good, wise, and, at least, 
inevitable…ideological support being vital to the State, it must unceasingly 
try to impress the public with ‘legitimacy,’ to distinguish its activities from 
those of mere brigands.” (emphasis added)

Canadian singer rocks out against heavy oil – Features – Al Jazeera English

Canadian singer rocks out against heavy oil – Features – Al Jazeera English.

The Canadian government says Young should remember that oil extraction drives economic growth [Reuters]
Musician Neil Young kicked off his Honor the Treaties tour Sunday in Canada to raise money for a First Nations’ legal battle against a tar sands project activists say would violate treaty and constitutional rights of indigenous communities.

“We are killing these people,” Young told a crowd gathered at Toronto’s Massey Hall. “The blood of these people are on modern Canada’s hands.”

The tour began in Toronto, where Young spoke at a news conference along with Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) Chief Allen Adam and environmentalist David Suzuki before performing in front of a sold-out crowd.

The week-long tour will visit Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary. Proceeds from the shows will be donated to the legal-defense fund of the northern Alberta-based Athabasca tribal government challenging new tar sands projects.

During a news conference, Young, who visited a tar sands site near Fort McMurray, Alberta, called the industry “the greediest, most destructive and most disrespectful demonstration of something just run amok.” The rock legend said what he saw was a “devastating environmental catastrophe” that could only be compared to Hiroshima.

“We went to the homes of First Nations people and I met them,” Young told concert attendees at Massey Hall. “While I was there, I drove around the tar sands in my electric car and experienced this unbelievable smell and toxicity. My throat and eyes were burning, and this was about 25 miles away from the actual site at Fort (McMurray).”

‘Rigorous’ environmental laws

Calls by Al Jazeera to Alberta’s government representatives were not returned in time for publication. According to the Oil Sands Division of the Alberta Department of Energy website, the tar sands industry provides significant economic benefits to Albertans. The energy sector accounted for over 22 percent of Alberta’s GDP in 2012, according to the Alberta Department of Energy.

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Alberta, furthermore, can expect $350bn in royalties and $122bn in total tax revenue from work at the tar sands over the next 25 years, according to the Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI).

Development of tar sands involves the extraction of heavy crude oil called bitumen from underneath the wilderness. Critics have warned of potentially catastrophic environmental consequences.

Fort McMurray lies on the outskirts of Jackpine Mine, which was approved for expansion by the government in July, 2013. That order convinced the Athabasca they had no choice but to fight the move in court for violating treaty agreements, which prohibit any activity that interferes with Athabasca’s ability to survive by hunting, fishing and trapping on their territory.

Jason MacDonald, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, told CBC Canada Monday that the natural resource sector is a fundamental part of the country’s economy.

“Even the lifestyle of a rock star relies, to some degree, on the resources developed by thousands of hard-working Canadians,” MacDonald said in a statement. He added the government would “continue to ensure that Canada’s environmental laws and regulations are rigorous.”

Suzuki, who introduced Young in Toronto, said that the First Nation is simply asking the government to respect an agreement that it signed.

“These are some of the poorest people in Canada, and they’re telling us there’s more important things than money — like the air, the water and all the other living organisms on the planet,” Suzuki said.

‘David and Goliath’

The 1,200-member Athabasca tribe has asked Canada’s federal court to review Ottawa’s decision to allow the expansion, which would encroach on Athabasca land.

There has never been a mine turned down, despite thousands of pages of risks being presented to these panels

David Schindler, University of Alberta

“It’s a David and Goliath story,” Eriel Deranger, communications coordinator for the Athabasca First Nation, told Al Jazeera. The expansion could also violate federal laws covering fisheries and species at risk, Deranger said.

Deranger, an Athabasca tribe member, said the Jackpine Mine expansion would contribute to cumulative impacts that would break the treaty. She added that the government knew that when it was approved.

“The decision released in July made major admissions,” she said. “The panel admitted that the project would have significant adverse effects on the environment and in some cases even cause irreversible damage.”

David Schindler, professor emeritus at the University of Alberta, testified at the Jackpine Mine hearings. He said the area had already seen severe environmental impacts by previous mines in the area.

“They’re talking about destroying 20 kilometers of the Athabasca River – that’s a fairly big body of water,” Schindler told Al Jazeera. “There are about 10,000 or more fish that go up and down that river, and it’s being treated as if it was a sewer.”

Deranger said the project would impact species like wood bison, caribou and other at-risk species as well as fisheries and waterways – with no proven method of reclamation afterward.

Schindler, a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, said no real assessment process can be done by “a few government appointees known to favor the oil and gas industry.”

He said his 2008 study on the environmental impact of industry pollutants was at first discounted by the government, but was later confirmed by their own studies. In the end, tougher monitoring standards were recommended, but Schindler said the monitoring program is still controlled by the government.

“There has never been a mine turned down, despite thousands of pages of risks being presented to these panels,” Schindler said. “It makes you feel creepy having your government make a treaty and then violate it at every turn.”

The Athabasca First Nation says Shell, which operates the Jackpine Mine, breached its duties to “meaningfully consult” with the tribal council – a First Nation right across Canada in cases where energy industry activities could impact their territory.

A spokesman from Shell Canada told CBC Canada that company staff and senior leaders meet regularly to deal with aboriginal communities to discuss projects, training, business opportunities and cultural activities.

However, Deranger contested the seriousness of those meetings.

“We found our concerns are largely unaddressed … our rights left at the wayside in the development of these projects are either negated or ignored,” she said.

Loonie Hits 4-Year Low After Bad Economic News

Loonie Hits 4-Year Low After Bad Economic News.

The loonie continued its long slide Wednesday, hitting a fresh four-year low against the U.S. dollar.

The Canadian dollar was trading at 92.58 cents after falling more than a cent Tuesday to its lowest close since late 2009.

The slide followed a spate of bad news about Canada’s economy. The Ivey Purchasing Managers Index, a measure of economic activity, came in much lower than expected for last month, at 46.3, compared to 53.7 the month before. A reading below 50 suggests economic contraction.

Canada’s trade deficit numbers also spooked the markets, with Statistics Canada reporting Tuesday that the country’s overall trade deficit with the world grew to $940 million in November as imports rose to $40.7 billion, while exports were unchanged at $39.8 billion.

The deficit came as the results for October were also revised to show a deficit of $908 million compared with an initial report of a surplus of $75 million for the month.

Meanwhile, U.S. economic data has been positive, further pressuring the loonie downwards.

Payroll firm ADP reported the U.S. private sector created 238,000 jobs during December. That data came two days before the release of the U.S. government’s employment report for last month. Economists expect it will show the economy created about 195,000 jobs in total. 

International traders are certainly bearish on the Canadian dollar. The Globe and Mail reports the amount of money being placed in bets against the loonie is nearing extremes, with about US$5.5 billion currently invested against it.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs forecast late last year the Canadian dollar could hit 88 cents U.S. in 2014.

Meanwhile, Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz doesn’t appear in any hurry to raise the Bank of Canada’s trend-setting rate. In an interview on CBC on Tuesday, he denied he was under international pressure to raise rates.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty suggested in a recent interview that there would be such pressure as a result of Fed tapering.

Poloz did say that Fed tapering will inevitably put pressure on Canadian bond yields, likely leading to an increase in long-term fixed mortgage rates even if the Bank of Canada does not increase its benchmark rate.

— With files from The Canadian Press

Are The Markets Rigged? | Zero Hedge

Are The Markets Rigged? | Zero Hedge.

Despite being found guilty of and fined for manipulations of every other market in the world (from FX to rates to energy), investors small and large continue to play the markets on the basis that they are fair and balanced. Aside from high-profile insider trades; day after day, the oddly high correlations, the obvious spikes, blips, and front-running are ignored… until now. In this brief documentary,CBC asks the critical question “are the world’s stock markets rigged?” Amanda Lang concludes “there’s a sense among the general public that nobody seems to be maintaining the integrity of the system.” as she highlights case after case “as though everything is rigged!” Conspiracy theory evolves once again into conspiracy fact as the system that’s supposed to benefit many, but actually enriches a few.

 

“Historically, the system works because people have confidence in the rules and believe they are treated the same as anybody else.

 

But it’s getting harder and harder to ignore the stories of powerful people cheating the system for their own gain. As the bad apples add up, it gets harder and harder to ignore a troubling realization — “everything is rigged.””

 

 

 

As we’ve noted before:

Courtesy of the revelations over the past year, one thing has been settled: the statement “Wall Street Manipulated Everything” is no longer in the conspiracy theorist’s arsenal: it is now part of the factually accepted vernacular. And to summarize just how, who and where this manipulation takes places is the following series of charts from Bloomberg demonstrating Wall Street at its best – breaking the rules and making a killing.

Foreign Exchanges

Regulators are looking into whether currency traders have conspired through instant messages to manipulate foreign exchange rates. The currency rates are used to calculate the value of stock and bond indexes.

 

Energy Trading

Banks have been accused of manipulating energy markets in California and other states.

 

Libor

Since early 2008 banks have been caught up in investigations and litigation over alleged manipulations of Libor.

 

Mortgages

Banks have been accused of improper foreclosure practices, selling bonds backed by shoddy mortgages, and misleading investors about the quality of the loans.

 

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