Police State?

We were all either amused, shocked, or indifferent when Edward Snowden leaked a lot of facts about America spying on its own citizens. “They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” Edward Snowden told the Washington Post. You can find this quote here. Apparently many phone calls times, endpoints and durations; many online eMail providers, and many other records are routinely gathered and kept. Most of America was I hope shocked. You should be too, as much of your material goes through servers in the USA and can be watched and recorded.

I note with amusement that Brazil is trying to force many of its ISPs to keep the data inside Brazil. Here is one report on this. “Brazil may soon require global Internet companies to store domestic communications data in the country in response to reports that the U.S. widely spies on telephone and Internet traffic across Latin America.”

Given this interest in police or secret police gathering information on citizens, I marvel that we are allowing carding of pedestrians in the city of Toronto. Here is a pointer to one of several articles in the Toronto Star on this. (More on using the Star in another post.)

A black law student filed a freedom of information request and received more than fifty pages of information. In today’s paper (can’t see it online yet) there is an article describing how carding was done in one instance (there is apparently a cell phone video of the event). All the entrances and exits to an area are monitored. Everyone is required to provide identification. One person who refused was surrounded by eight (8!) cops until he relented. The information is kept, and later entered into a database that is never purged. And presumably, errors or malicious misrepresentation is possible here. The resulting database is used routinely. No probable cause is required to demand the information nor to search it later.

I submit that such a record of every time (fifty pages!) one is in an area deemed to be ‘of interest’ or one appears to be ‘of interest’ is a fundamental invasion of privacy roughly equal to knowing when, and to what numbers, I have made telephone calls; or what I put into an eMail to my co-workers at Canadian Food for Children.

So, who has the police state? America? Will Brazil escape their reach? Will Bill Blair actually do anything to materially reduce the carding and the database that it creates?

Those who remember the G20 in Toronto have seen videos of gratuitous police violence, and I think exactly one conviction has resulted some five years later.

Police state, anyone?

If you thought that was the dumb question, here’s a better one:

Can we do anything about this? Will we? Should we?

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