Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts tagged Canada

Momentum is building to #RejectFear and stop theHarper Conservative’s reckless, vague and unnecessary ‘Secret Police’ bill before they can rush it into law.

We’ve got a plan to stop this bill from passing without major changes and proper oversight – and it starts with making sure that people from all across Canada see a new video that shows just how high the stakes are.


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Human Resources and Skills Development Canada has stated that a portable hard drive containing the personal information of more than a half a million Canadians who received student loans went missing last November.

The information on the missing hard drive includes:

Student names, social insurance numbers, dates of birth, contact information and loan balance of Canada Student Loan borrowers.
Personal contact information for 250 HRSDC employees.

The government says no banking or medical information was on the hard drive.

Policies have since been changed so that personal information cannot be stored on portable drives anymore.

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Brandon Loo and Christopher Sweeney were returning from a trip to Vancouver when they were stopped at the border because they were attempting to bring Kinder Eggs into America.

The popular German chocolate eggs are not sold in the U.S. because they are considered a choking hazard. They are also banned because the treats are considered adulterated food by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

This has got to be one of the stupidest laws in America. Anyone who has ever eaten a Kinder Egg knows that the toy is inside the egg inside a big, yellow plastic egg. You’re not going to choke on it.

I suppose I’d better stop letting me friends mail them to me from overseas. I received them many times since the 1990s. I’ve also bought Kinder Eggs in the stores here in America, so someone isn’t universally applying this idiotic law.

Chocotreasure, however, is available in the US. Not as good as Kinder though.


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Some parts of Ottawa’s airport have received upgrades to their aging video system. The new system will include audio recording as well as HD video.

A CBSA statement said that audio-video monitoring and recording is already in place at unidentified CBSA sites at airports and border points of entry as part of an effort to enhance “border integrity, infrastructure and asset security and health and safety.”

“It is important to note that even though audio technology is installed, no audio is recorded at this time. It will become functional at a later date,” CBSA spokesman Chris Kealey said in a written statement.

But whenever that occurs, the technology, “will record conversations,” the agency said in a separate statement in response to questions from the Ottawa Citizen.

You can now feel safe that your conversations aren’t being recorded now, but they will be in the future. Privacy issues, however, are not a concern of the CBSA as they claim they are making you safer.

At Ottawa’s airport, signs will be posted referring passersby to a “privacy notice” that will be posted on the CBSA website once the equipment is activated, and to a separate help line explaining how the recordings will be used, stored, disclosed and retained.

Already, though, the union representing about 45 CBSA employees at the airport is concerned personal workplace conversations and remarks could be captured and become part of employees’ official record, Jean-Pierre Fortin, national president of the Custom and Immigration Union, said Friday. He added that the union only learned of the audio-recording development this week, after reporters began making inquiries.

CBSA are more concerned with catching criminals who are using the airport to smuggle their contraband. The problem is that only the stupid criminals will be caught. The smart criminals will be talking about the latest hockey game, current events, or their children’s first words. They aren’t going to be discussing illegal activities.

A crucial aspect of the change are proposed regulations giving border services officers expanded powers to question, examine and search airport workers and travellers, both domestic and international, within the designated areas.

The controlled areas at Ottawa’s Macdonald-Cartier International Airport include the areas surrounding aircraft that have arrived in or are about to leave Canada; the primary inspection area where all travellers must report to a border services officer; the secondary inspection area where border services officers conduct further examinations of travellers and goods; as well as certain holding and departure areas at the airport.

The areas surrounding the aircraft are extremely noisy. In 28 years of traveling, I have yet to see employees near the aircraft speak more than a few words. Typically, they aren’t saying anything because there’s too much noise to do so. The primary inspection area is like an elevator. People rarely speak there. The secondary inspection area may have more talking, but it’s usually some airport security official talking to a passenger. Any passenger that discusses moving contraband there deserves to be arrested.

“Certain holding and departure areas” is vague enough that it could be just about anywhere. If the departure areas are the gates, then, unless you’re with a group, it’s unlikely people are talking to each other there either. Again, departure areas are much like elevators. There is an occasional hello or a question as to whether a seat is taken, but the only real talking is people attempting to get to their departure gate correctly.

This isn’t about terrorism. This is about people smuggling more items in the country than is allowed, such as alcohol and cigarettes, as well as illegal substances. It’s about what you might accidentally say that the government doesn’t like, such as a crass joke about blowing up the airport. It’s about government paranoia and their desire to control everything you do.

Canadians are now left hoping that the Privacy Impact Assessment will come through before the audio is turned on and verify that audio recordings at any airport violate privacy laws already in place.

Photo via the Ottawa Citizen.

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Canadians will soon have to pay more fees for listening to music at public events.

Effective Oct. 1, the Copyright Board of Canada has certified new tariffs on events held at venues that play recorded music, whether it’s convention centres, banquet halls, parades, ice shows, fairs, or weddings. The fees will be collected by not-for-profit agency Re: Sound, which distributes the money to performers and music labels. The fees are on top of those collected by the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN).

For events such as weddings, receptions, conventions and assemblies with fewer than 100 people, the Re: Sound fee is $9.25 per day. That increases to $13.30 for crowds of up to 300 people, $27.76 for 301-500 guests, and $39.33 for crowds of more than 500. Oddly, the fees double if there’s dancing.
If you simply listen to the music, there’s a fee. If you dance and enjoy yourself, the fees automatically double.

The fees will also apply to fashion shows, circuses, fireworks displays, cabarets and taverns.

Reporting works on the honour system — it’s up to venues to tell Re: Sound how much music they’ve used.

Meanwhile Karaoke bars will pay between $86.06 and $124 annually depending on how many days they operate per week. And parades will be charged a minimum daily fee of $32.55 and $4.39 thereafter for each participating float with recorded music.

These are not fees, they are extortion rates. If one DJ does shows every weekend for 500+ people, the DJ will be forced to pay $80 to Re: Sound ($160 for the weekend). That’s $640 per month and $7680 per year. That’s just to Re: Sound. Add in the SOCAN fee of $200 ($400 for the weekend), $1600 per month or $19,200 a year and you’ve got a nice little racket going. In case you’re counting, that’s $26,880 per year in these music fees.

These fees will surely be passed on to the people booking the event and, while some might not think it’s a big deal, how long will it be before these fees are increased and/or expanded?

Photo credit.

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