CBC released the scary realization that there were many countries around the world who had clandestine surveillance agencies who sole purpose is to monitor their citizens. And, that they have exploited people in the most vulnerable ways, through the use of web browsers.
Affecting millions of people, most Canadians were shocked to find that Canada was not exempt from the list of those who were being followed without their knowledge or their permission. When the governments of these countries found out that the software was capable of leaking very personal information, instead of warning citizens, they decided to use it to their advantage to survey people.
No more privacy?
Edward Snowden, who caused a huge controversy in America, released reports that affect more than half-billion residents around the globe who use the UC Browser and it is creating a huge security leak for anyone who is using the browser. The leak allows network providers, surveillance agencies, and telecom companies to gain access to your identity, your communication activities, and all the location data that you have inputted.
What would have alarmed Canadians just a few short years ago comes as no surprise. It isn’t just the internet that is surveilling people, Canadians are being watched over by airport wireless networks and other types of internet downloads, virtually losing any chance that citizens have to privacy.
The average Canadian understands that everything they do is being monitored by someone for some purpose and feels very little control over stopping it. Canadians have been comfortable, up until now, being told that sometimes to gain things you have to lose things. They have been accepting that to gain access to information via the internet; they might have to give up a little privacy. But, what was released last week, is slightly more dangerous and a lot more frightening.
The new releases brought the reality to light that the Five Eyes surveillance agencies located in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UK are actually tapping into personal information about people. These agencies were created to watch over the acts of citizens for the “greater good” to monitor security threats, but at what price and how efficient are they? More importantly, why does that mean that they should have access to your personal information?
Internet providers like Bell and many others refuse to release transparency reports about subscriber information. And, other companies such as Samsung, are also keeping their activities quiet. Making everyone suspicious, it isn’t just the government that is watching over the citizen’s personal information and communication; it is corporate entities who aren’t doing it for national security, but for their own profitability.
More troubling is that the Canadian government has done nothing to stop the practice. In fact, they are one of weakest overseers of surveillance activity of any other developed world.
So what is the answer?
Oakley Alarms, the provider of Internet surveillance in Winnipeg, explains that encryption is not a failsafe, but it does provide a barrier against anyone who is trying to engage in mass surveillance. Encryption is a way to keep the security and privacy of users safe, so that their mundane messages and communication with one another are protected and not listened in on. The reason it is ideal is that although stopping surveillance of the private conversation of those who aren’t doing anything threatening, it can still pinpoint and target threats to national security.
Individual encryption is a great place to begin, but it isn’t enough. Web-based emails services and websites do not offer their consumers encryption, so anything that goes through those mediums is capable of being seen. Large-scale encryption should be the standard for any email service or website going forward. Internet surveillance policy and political solutions also should be the top priority for the Canadian government to protect the right to privacy that Canadians are guaranteed.
There are times when you have to give up some things to gain benefit. But, there is no reason why average Canadian citizens are having their personal information tracked, looked through and recorded. That isn’t a matter of national security, that is a failure by the government to stop the invasion of privacy. Looking the other way isn’t the answer. Creating change and using available tools effectively is.