This post would normally go to my other blog, paroxysms.ca, but since the gravity of the situation is so great, it gets promoted to the main personal blog.
Earlier today, the Conservative Party of Canada and the Liberal Party of Canada passed the flawed bill C-51, a bill that gives CSIS a whole new set of new powers without oversight. Many people have talked about the new bill, but other than calling it the Secret Police bill, it's really unclear as to how the bill affects the average Canadian. Of course, this is tricky, because the very nature of this bill is to crack down on various communities, not necessarily on terrorism, and is by nature a very vile, racist piece of legislation.
As a Canadian Citizen, the primary time you interact with the federal government is when you file taxes. Most of the time, natural-born Canadians aren't interacting with the government directly. However, if you decide to fly on a plane, you interact with CATSA (Canadian TSA) and if you fly internationally back into Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency. If you go to a National Park, like Banff or Jasper, you once again interact with a federal employee, and so on. All these interactions can now be shared between departments to form a more complete profile of you by CSIS. Of course, this isn't the worst of it. The worst happens once you become a person of interest to the RCMP or CSIS
A person of interest is someone who is under active surveillance by Canada's Police and Intelligence Agencies. Before C-51, the RCMP would be unable to gather a complete profile on a person and would be forced for days to watch someone. They wouldn't be able to get their legal name, nor would they be able to do very much in the way of intelligence gathering. It took the RCMP months to figure out that I worked at Nitobi instead of Spartacus Books, for example, and it wasn't until they asked the CBSA when the CBSA detained me for the second time that they got my name right. I'm pretty certain that they didn't know how much I made at my job, or who my co-wokers are. However, now that they can share information with the Canada Revenue Agency, they can find that information without a problem, and then begin investigating all my co-workers if I was still under surveillance as a person of interest. These rabbit holes of information are too tempting to these agencies and it is far too easy for these groups to find patterns where none exist, or conflate rumors completely out of proportion.
Now, if you think that's bad, remember that I am white and I had it pretty easy. Now, think about someone who is Native or who immigrated to Canada. Their interactions with the government are greater than mine, and depending on their backround the Government is far more intrusive into their lives. Right now the people who are most at risk by C-51 information sharing are people in Muslim communities. Because of the paper trail between these agencies, it's easy for false leads to emerge and for people who have done nothing wrong other than have a conversation with the wrong person to end up with a Security Certificate, or worse, put into indefinite detention. The information sharing by the various government agencies was already happening for events through the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre, it is now going to increase its scope to individuals, and it will be these communities that will feel the brunt of this new legislation.
This legislation is entirely about fear, and this is a power grab to capitalize on that fear. Allowing CSIS and CSEC to go on the offensive and take down websites that it deems a threat to Canada without oversight is about fear, especially when it is prefaced with a fasicst comment from the Member of Parliament for Edmonton Center questioning the loyalty of the Canadian tech industry (and yes, as someone who chose to stay in Canada after the acquisition by Adobe, that SEVERELY pisses me off, but I'm going to save that for another post).
Vancouver recently decided to roll out Municipal WiFi, and this wifi will be brought to you by Telus and Shaw, and not by the Vancouver Community Network. This isn't a big surprise because the VCN doesn't have the expertise or the people required for this task. What is interesting is the fact that there a public speaker who was allowed to speak, whose presentation was so ridiculous that it alerted me to this actually taking place.
You can find the video of the meeting here on the City of Vancouver's Neulion.com site. and the minutes of the motion here. At 1:44:04, there is a presentation of a person who refers to themselves as Cherise Kaiser. This person believes that WiFi is Genocide, is toxic and that it prevents this person from beaming their "EpiGenetic DNA". This person is given almost 10 minutes to talk about their past history, and their personal belefs about their nipples and breasts. Now, on the surface, this sounds like the most ridiculous thing that was said at the City Council meeting, except that it wasn't.
The most ridiculous thing said was by Councillor Adrianne Carr who said at 2:12:20 that she was convinced that the personal infomration of residents data was not going to be collected. This was probably told to her by city staff. Given the most recent revelations by Edward Snowden of CSEC spying on all ISP traffic, and earlier revelations of CSEC spying on airport data, it's obvious that this WILL be used to collect the data of residents by CSEC, and that while there may be no spying on the City's side, that's the only guarantee that the city can give at the municipal level. There is also another issue with the specturm usage on the 2.4 GHz band and the 5 GHz band, and the question of whether this will just add additional pollution to the band and make people's personal networks no longer work properly, but these are technical details that are clearly missing.
I'm all for City WiFi, since it means I can play Ingress without using up my data plan or my work's data plan, but I'm definitely thinking that there's going to be a terrible catch somewhere with this. Ten years ago, I was part of a group of people who were looking for a solution to use WiFi gear on, and we went to City Council to find out about their desire for someone else to run a WiFi network for free. The RFEOI at the time demanded that there'd be a business model, and we wrote two proposals. One of the proposals was the not-for-profit model for the DTES, and the other proposal was a joke proposal that talked about openly stealing metadata and cramming a shit ton of ads down people's throats. The thing with the latter is that it's far more likely than the former, especially when you add something like G+ or Facebook authentication to get on the Internet.
That being said, while it is tempting to mock Ms Kaiser for their concerns about their EpiGenetic DNA not being transmitted, the fact that they were there did attract my attention to something that I thought was dead a long time ago, and something that most people woudln't care about if their data plans weren't so god damned expensive.
Today, I decided to convert all the sites that I currently run from Wordpress to ones generated by Jekyll. It's definitely not perfect, and some sites that had a lot of blog posts definitely are suffering from import problems that need to be resolved, but I've moved both paroxysms.ca and profunc.ca over to using Jekyll and I'm finding it a lot easier to maintain. Especially since I don't have to run that stupid php-fastcgi proxy with nginx anymore.
I'm going to post details of new projects that I'm working on soon, but for right now I'm just stoked about having a new re-design of profunc.ca based on a solid theme that I'm definitely going to re-use over and over again in the future.