On Wednesday, July 27 2011, I’ll be talking at the forum to stop online spying. The forum is part of a larger national campaign to raise awareness about the potentials of state surveillance and the implications of the Government of Canada’s (expected) surveillance legislation that will be announced in the fall 2011 session. Amongst other provisions, the legislation is expected to significantly reduce the degree of judicial oversight surrounding government acquisition of subscriber data – data that users of the Internet provide to their ISP, chat services (e.g. MSN, AIM), social networking sites (e.g. Google+, Orkut, Facebook), and other online communications mediums.
I’ll be giving a short talk entitled “Creeping Towards a State of Surveillance” that is meant as an introduction to the gravity and nuances of surveillance legislation. In it, I’ll first talk about what constitutes surveillance and what constitutes function creep. From there, I’ll briefly discuss the challenges associated with classifying data as ‘public’ or ‘private’ and the deficits of ‘anonymizing’ data. This will focus on distinguishing between so-called traffic and content data types, and the kinds of private information that can be extracted from ‘mere’ traffic data. I’ll wrap things up with a quick overview of the positive, and problematic, aspects of audits, advocates, and government commissioners in restraining the state’s appetite for intelligence for so-called policing actions.
If you’re interested in coming out then head over to StopOnlineSpying.com and register. The talks start at 1:30 and run until 5:30, and are a non-partisan discussion of the forthcoming legislative agenda. It’s meant to be heavy on discussion and maximally accessible to people that don’t focus their lives studying privacy, democracy, or telecommunications and has a good mix of advocates and scholars. If you can’t make the forum, but are either bothered by or want to learn more about the Canadian government’s expanded surveillance laws, check out the national campaign.