The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) is deeply concerned by the latest revelations of the RCMP contracting firms to engage in widespread online surveillance and so-called “proactive” identification of threats.
On Sept. 23, the Tyee revealed that the RCMP has awarded a new contract to Babel Street, a US-based company that uses algorithms to track, analyze and translate online communications. It is used extensively by law enforcement agencies in the United States. The RCMP has said in the past that it uses such software to move from “reactive” policing to the controversial practice of “proactive” policing: identifying potential threats before they occur by surveilling and collecting information on individuals who are not suspected of having engaged in criminal activity.
“It is completely unacceptable that the RCMP is moving forward with what can only be described as online mass surveillance,” said Tim McSorley, National Coordinator of the ICLMG. “We are calling on the RCMP to immediately halt the use of Babel Street and other surveillance software used in an attempt to predict crime, and to release the audit of its online surveillance program the force committed to months ago, but never made public. We also believe that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada should open an investigation into the RCMP’s online activities.” Mass surveillance can never be justified, added McSorley, regardless of what may be included in the RCMP’s report.