Spying for us or on us?

by Mitch94 on February 13, 2014 - 4:48pm

The CBC news team received information that the CSEC (Canada’s electronic spy agency) has used intelligence from the Wi-Fi at a major Canadian airport of thousands of travellers for a two-week period. The information that was received from the cell phones would indicate the calls made by the owner as well as the location they were made from. The content however wasn’t monitored and can only be censored by obtaining a warrant. The monitoring made by the CSEC was a trial run for new software that is being developed. They claim that they had never targeted Canadians and that they never monitored any phones to begin with. However the top-secret document that was attained by U.S. informer Edward Snowden presents a different story. The claim is that the software that is being developed would help the agency in its affaires and help keep Canada safe. However at the same time, it has violated the privacy rights of over 300 000 Canadians in the process.  It is a classic case of security over privacy all while presenting a lack of honesty to the public. The belief is that even if the agency isn’t granted permission by a judge to test their software on Canadian soil that they may do as they please in order to benefit the agency and the Canadian population as a whole. If the rights of a few are disrupted in order to benefit the entire Canadian population than the cause for these acts can be justified. However the privacy rights and personal information of many Canadians was scrutinized for over a week. These are rights that in our digital age are constantly at risk and if we allow agencies/ organizations to do as they please then where do we draw the line. Little to no action on this issue could result in a snowball effect allowing other organizations to do the same and using the information that they obtain to target specific individuals with specific ads or using personal information against them. Should the agency be able to target and monitor the phones of many Canadians to “try out” software? And in the case where they are even evaluating other means of information gathering should they be granted access at all to personal files without permission. I believe that the agency should look to other means of trying their new software. Perhaps it may benefit us in some way or another in the near future however if the rights of many Canadians are violated in the process, the agency would be doing more harm then good when it comes to the protection of Canada and its citizens.


If there is a moral principle which should be important to the media, that principle should surely be truth. In practice though, it unfortunately appears as if the corporate media is more interested in serving as fawning courtiers to capitalist and government elites. This story is a perfect example of that process. Instead of asking the hard questions, the mainstream media accepts the "privacy vs. security" framework with regard to mass surveillance; a framework which falls apart with only a small amount of research.

As I've mentioned before on this site, the programs revealed by Snowden do not actually protect us from terrorists. No single attack has been prevented due to the surveillance dragnet. The only terror-related arrest made as a result of these programs has been a single Somali-American who wire-transferred a small amount of money to al-Shabaab, a nationalist group in Somalia which emerged due to blowback from the U.S.'s Global War on Terror.

The tasks actually accomplished by these programs reveal in striking detail their true purpose: social control. They have been used to persecute the sources of investigative journalists (Obama has used the Espionage Act against whistleblowers over twice as many times as all other presidents combined), target activist groups such as Anonymous and Occupy, prevent global action to mitigate climate change, and a whole host of other activities which benefit the corporate class at the expense of the working-class majority. Jeremy Hammond, who is facing ten years in prison for his whistleblowing, revealed that American corporate elites have been attempting to fabricate ties between leftist group in the U.S. and Middle Eastern terrorist organizations. Canada, while less extreme than the United States, is rapidly heading in the same direction. I've posted an informative article below which deals specifically with the federal government's spying on environmental groups and indigenous activists, essentially working on direct orders from the fossil-fuel industry.


So while your examination of the CBC piece is an accurate analysis of that individual article, the article itself lacks an honest approach to the issue at hand. Of course, this should not be a surprise, as the CBC has seemingly given up its adversarial role in relation to the government under Harper. My advice to you is to stop getting your information from large media conglomerates. The debate as they present it is almost never an accurate depiction of reality.

First of all, your title really took my attention, since it tells a lot about what the government and many other great agencies are doing to us, while trying to make us think there doing it in order to benefits us. Therefore, i'm completely against the way agencies are "spying" on us in order to gain informations that really benefits them instead of us. Indeed, i think that this excuse of "protecting and helping the Canadian society to stay safe" that they give us is way too vague to be taken seriously. While saying that they're really doing this for the people, they could easily take the informations they collect to their advantage, for example, just like you said about the fact they can target specific individuals with certain ads because of the data they collected. Furthermore, they could also collect this information in order to be constantly aware of what the society thinks or how it evolved, in order to know how to use it in order to help themselves to gain more power or control. I think that this "privacy vs. security" conflict is obviously in advantage of the agencies that are spying on us, since the population can't know what they're truly doing with it. Therefore, it goes against important values as individual freedom, justice, non-conformity and even security, since we can't be sure if it's really one of their goals to protect us. Everybody should have equal rights and knowledge of what is happening in our reality, and the fact these agencies can say anything they want to the society while nobody can be sure of if it's true or not goes against this ethical principle. I claim that if we want to feel safe, we should be aware of what's really going on instead of getting simple excuses like "we're doing this in order to protect the population", which is used in order to make them look noble. Indeed, would we agree with these agencies if they we're telling us that they were spying on us in order to gain more power over us?

your topic is very eye catching as well as very interesting issue . the act is very privacy violating because there are many other ways they could have done it . I like the fact that they want to develop a software system to protect our security but ,as I mentioned before they could have chosen other alternative to test on. on one hand they claim that it is for the security of people on other hand, they ruin their privacy it totally does not make sense . I think whatever they do ,they do it for their own benefits because if they really cared about the security values of citizen ,than they wouldn't have secretly spy on them and violate their value of freedom of speech.

The title caught to my intention of reading this post, agencies should not have the right to spy on us to benefit themselves. Spying on us would not make us feel safe, neither would it make us feel free. This just makes human beings sound as tools so that these agencies can test things using our technology. Yes, I understand that they want to help our security but to a certain extent. This should not be aloud because we have the right as human beings to have freedom and privacy and should not feel like we are being speed on. They probably will say one day that they are not spying on us but do you think that we are ever going to have full privacy?

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