Touring the digital through type

Tag: atip

Beyond ATIP: New Methods for Researching State Surveillance Practices

9781894037679I’ve had a book chapter, titled “Beyond ATIP: New Methods for Researching State Surveillance,” published in Access To Information And Social Justice: Critical Research Strategies for Journalists, Scholars, and Activists. The book was edited by Jamie Brownlee and Kevin Walby and is available for purchase at a variety of brick and mortar, as well as online, book vendors. The book combines political and practical aspects of Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) research in a single volume. In addition to exposing how ATIP-related documents have led to major, nation-affecting, news stories the book helps Canadian citizens use and navigate the federal access to information processes.

My contribution argued the ATIP process must be supplemented when  investigating particularly secretive government practices. I drew from work that I conducted at the Citizen Lab as part of the Telecommunications Transparency Project, specifically focusing on activities undertaken between January-August 2014.

Full Abstract

This chapter focuses on the challenges of studying the difficult and often obscure issues of Canadian state and corporate surveillance. Researchers routinely turn to Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) requests to cut through this obscurity, but the laws are often too weak, too poorly enforced, or too full of deliberate loopholes and blind spots to provide comprehensive awareness about surveillance. Thus, additional methodological techniques are needed to pierce the veil of government secrecy. But what kinds of techniques can be successful, what are their limitations, and how effective are they? How can researchers better understand the kinds of surveillance programs that the federal government is conducting now, and has conducted in the past? I begin by discussing the merits and drawbacks of federal ATIP legislation, a legal tool that is routinely used to learn about the scope and dimensions of state surveillance. In light of the ATIP regime’s relative limits in revealing the contours of federal surveillance, I discuss how researchers can use a variety of political, regulatory, and legal techniques to increase government accountability and corporate transparency. Importantly, the methodological proposals I assess have the effect of adding as opposed to replacing data received under ATIP. By adopting an expanded set of methodological techniques, researchers can better fill out and make sense of the often limited revelations that emerge from the ATIP process.

Purchase the book from Amazon.ca // Pre-order from Amazon.com

Image credit: Book cover from Jamie Brownlee and Kevin Walby (Eds.). http://arpbooks.org/books/detail/access-to-information-and-social-justice

The Oddities of CBC’s Snowden Redactions

cbcThe CBC has recently partnered with Glenn Greenwald to publish some of Edward Snowden’s documents. Taken from the National Security Agency (NSA), the documents the CBC is exclusively reporting on are meant to have a ‘Canadian focus.’ Many of the revelations that have emerged from Mr. Snowden’s documents have provided insights into how the NSA conducts its activities both domestically and abroad, and have also shown how the Agency’s ‘Five Eyes’ partners conduct their affairs.

Journalists have redacted documents or provided partial copies since first reporting on the Snowden documents in summer 2013. To date, no common method or system of redacting documents has been agreed upon between the journalists and news agencies covering these documents.

In this post I want to spend some time talking about the redactions that the CBC has made to the sole Snowden document it has (thus far) released to the public. I begin by explaining how I got my – almost entirely unredacted – version of the document and why I am comparing my copy to the ‘publicly released’ version. Next, I discuss the various redactions made by the CBC and comment on the appropriateness of each redaction. Where I think that information ought to have been released, or the redacted information is outside of the ‘personal information’ reason the CBC gave for redacting information, I provide or describe the information to the public. Finally, I write about the need for a more robust way of redacting documents: as I will make clear, the CBC’s approach seems (at best) scattershot and (at worst) inappropriate. The CBC is the journalist source that will  be controlling the Canadian Snowden documents and, as a result, has a public obligation to dramatically improve its explanations for why it is redacting sections of the leaked documents. Continue reading