International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
27 mars 2020
ICLMG's comments on news that " Trudeau leaves door open to using smartphone data to track Canadians' compliance with pandemic rules"
We can't let the coronavirus lead to a 9/11-style erosion of civil liberties
The Guardian 23/03/2020 - The government quickly responded by attempting to achieve two things: one, expanding executive power, and two, transferring public wealth into private corporations. The Bush administration achieved the first by passing the Patriot Act, which built the foundation for what is probably the world’s most expansive surveillance state, but also by setting legal precedents that violated basic constitutional rights and by creating the Department for Homeland Security, with its aggressive constituent agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The second goal was achieved with the “war on terror”, which involved unilateral occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and subsequent military forays into many African countries. In Iraq, private security, logistics and reconstruction contractors swallowed up $138bn alone. Since 2001, $5.9tn in taxpayer dollars have gone toward wars (not to mention resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and a foreign policy blackhole that still haunts the Middle East). Neither of these goals addressed the root cause of the crisis, and arguably exacerbated the conditions that led to 9/11. [...]

Once again, the federal government appears poised to exploit this emergency to expand executive power and move wealth from the public treasury into private bank accounts. As the Nation recently reported, an internal CBP directive empowers the agency to indefinitely monitor and detain anyone suspected of carrying the virus. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has begun a bailout for the oil industry, which could exceed $2.6bn in tax dollars going to oil industry control, and is toying with the idea of an airline industry bailout, which could exceed $50bn.

The authoritarian lockdowns in China and Italy may soon arrive to the anglophone world. Seeing self-avowed leftists and liberals praising such draconian reactions is frightening. Anyone who cares about democracy and civil liberty should not welcome such responses. As we witnessed with the authoritarian reactions to 9/11, emergency violations of civil liberties are not easily rolled back, and often aggregate over time. In the wake of 9/11, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which gave sweeping powers to the executive branch. In 2012, Obama signed an expanded version into law, which gave the president the power to “hold individuals, including US citizens, in military detention indefinitely”, which means for life. We must reject such authoritarian measures wholly, no matter who says they’re “necessary”. [...]

Instead, now is the time to implement a set of standards for what constitutes a response that puts the common good at the center. In the case of this virus, there are plenty of good ideas already being discussed that would do exactly that. Instead of moving public wealth into private corporations, the government should be doing the opposite" which will ensure people stay home since they won't have to go to work to put food on the table. Read more - Lire plus

COVID-19 Threatens More Than Your Health – Civil Liberties Are About to Be Slashed
CPO magazine 25/03/2020 - The pattern is not new. We’ve seen it dozens of times before – following every major terrorist attack there has been a push from authorities for more tracking, more surveillance. It is not a question of “if” but “when,” and how much privacy and autonomy we are prepared to give up. The COVID-19 pandemic is an undeniably alarming new threat, but one that many predicted. The new paradigm undoubtedly requires radical action, but need that mean a lurch towards authoritarianism?

I’m not the only one considering this. Former European Security Commissioner, Julian King, asked on Twitter how far we should go with contact tracing. “Countries in Asia, Israel are using mobile phone geolocalisation to trace COVID-19. Need to debate quickly if, [and] if so with what protections, this might happen in Europe.” Let’s consider the situation where we have seen tracking and surveillance deployed to counter the spread of the virus. China already had a vast countrywide network of surveillance and the ability to conduct mass surveillance before the outbreak. In typical Chinese fashion it used extremely blunt public order tools to try to stop the spread, in mid-January locking down Wuhan and 15 other cities in Hubei province. At its peak it is estimated around 760 million people were confined to their homes.

Fortunately, not many countries have the level of police state required to take such a sledgehammer approach. Singapore, a de facto one-party state, has implemented an impressive degree of contact tracing . The state publishes detailed daily updates on every known case, including where the person lives and works, the hospital where they were admitted, age, sex, and nationality. There is no doubt that the data generated provides valuable insights to the spread of the disease — perhaps highlighted best by Zhi Peng Lee’s website created using publicly available data. Anonymous data is hugely useful, but when everyone entering a major office building in Singapore has their temperature taken and is required to log their phone number – as is currently the case – anonymity goes out the window.
In Israel, the government has approved an emergency law to use mobile phone data to track the movements of coronavirus patients — a technology normally used to track terrorists. Meanwhile, controversial Israeli technology company, NSO , says it has developed a commercial product that will do the same. According to Bloomberg , the software takes mobile phone tracking information to identify if the owner of a particular SIM may have been exposed. Only if the individual opts in, will their identity be given to authorities. Personally, I am not sure how informed and freely-given consent is when one is terrified of being infected with a potentially deadly virus. About a dozen countries are testing the technology.

Pirate Party Member of the European Parliament, Patrick Breyer in response to telecommunications providers such as Deutsche Telekom, the Austrian A1 and the Belgian Proximus for bulk disclosure of location data in the coronavirus crisis said: “Monitoring the movements of all citizens – even without names – does not protect anyone from infection, but it makes unprecedented mass surveillance possible. Analysing bulk location data threatens to become a precedent for real-time identification of non-public meetings and gatherings, which can be very important for example for the confidential planning of political activities and actions. What now starts as a research project could become a weapon of mass surveillance and a highly dangerous instrument of persecution in the hands of a nationalist government.”

The next step could be the automated reporting of individuals for “suspicious behaviour” warned Breyer: “The next step will be to label people an ‘infection risk’ because of their movements and contacts – just as block wardens used to in authoritarian times. Our smartphones could also be turned into electronic shackles. A general suspicion against all citizens is typical for totalitarian systems like China, but unacceptable in a democracy! Under constant surveillance we are no longer free.” Meanwhile in Texas, another counter-terror tech company is pivoting to virus detection. “Our Fever Detection COVID-19 Screening System is now a part of our platform along with our gun detection system which connects directly to your current security camera system to deliver fast, accurate threat detection,” claims Athena . According to the company’s promotional video , its AI detects people’s temperature to determine whether they may have the virus and alerts security.

It is very tempting to think that sophisticated AI could protect us from COVID-19 or any similar pandemic. That only essential, accurate information will be collected, stored safely, only shared when there is a need to know, and will be deleted as soon as the danger passes – essentially all the sensible measures outlined by the Electronic Frontier Foundation . In reality we know that there is always mission-creep. The question for all of us in society is where to draw the line. Gideon Lichfield, MIT Technology Review’s editor in chief predicts we’re not going back to normal : “We’ll adapt to and accept such measures, much as we’ve adapted to increasingly stringent airport security screenings in the wake of terrorist attacks. The intrusive surveillance will be considered a small price to pay for the basic freedom to be with other people.”

I’m not so sure. Firstly, Europe and the US don’t have facial recognition or mass surveillance on anything like the same scale as China. Secondly, Europeans and Americans are much more likely to push back in defence of civil liberties. “As usual, however, the true cost will be borne by the poorest and weakest. People with less access to health care, or who live in more disease-prone areas, will now also be more frequently shut out of places and opportunities open to everyone else. Immigrants, refugees, the undocumented, and ex-convicts will face yet another obstacle to gaining a foothold in society,” says Lichfield. And there we agree. I do fear a civil liberties erosion is coming. All I ask is that it is proportionate. Read more - Lire plus

ACLU Comment on DOJ Considering COVID-19 Terrorism Charges
ACLU 25/03/2020 - The Department of Justice is reportedly considering charging individuals who “ intentionally spread ” the coronavirus under federal terrorism laws.

Below is comment from Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, in response: “The Department of Justice should not be sending such a counterproductive and harmful message as the nation responds to this pandemic. Rather than heeding public health experts' advice to promote public trust in science and reduce prison populations, the Justice Department is threatening to use vague, overbroad, and flawed coercive powers that will make people more afraid to seek care." Source

ACLU: Pandemic Preparedness: The Need for a Public Health - Not a Law Enforcement/National Security - Approach
ACLU 2008 - II - The Lesson: Law Enforcement is the Wrong Tool for the Job. Unfortunately, past lessons appear to have been forgotten. In the post-9/11 climate, public health policy has increasingly been viewed through the prism of, and indeed as a part of, law enforcement and national security. Rather than focusing on how government can work with individuals and their communities to be healthy, public health policymakers now often emphasize the need to take tough, coercive actions against the very people they are charged to help.

This approach not only targets people as the enemy instead of the disease, but also encourages health officials to believe that government cannot do much to help people in an epidemic. Little thought is therefore given to what society can and should do to help people prevent and mitigate epidemics. In effect, individuals are viewed as personally responsible for the spread of illness as well as for their own care. This law enforcement/national security strategy shifts the focus of preparedness from preventing and mitigating an emergency to punishing people who fail to follow orders and stay healthy.

While there have been and probably always will be a few people with contagious diseases who, unwittingly or deliberately, behave in ways that expose others to infection, existing state laws provide health officials with the tools they need to respond to such situations, for example, by confining such persons to hospitals. Such cases, however, are the exceptions to the rule. Americans generally do not want to spread disease to others and are generally capable of controlling their behavior to avoid infecting others. However, the law enforcement/national security approach converts the exception into the rule by treating everyone in the general population as a potential threat who warrants coercive treatment. [...]

It’s ineffective: The law enforcement approach has not and cannot prepare us for serious epidemics. Effective public health efforts, whether aimed at pandemic influenza or more common diseases such as TB and HIV/AIDS, are neither cheap nor glamorous. They are costly and difficult. These efforts require working with rather than against communities, providing communities with as healthy an environment as possible, health care if they need it, and the means to help themselves and their neighbors. Most importantly, to protect public health, public health policies must aim to help, rather than to suppress, the public.

It’s dangerous for civil liberties: The law enforcement approach to public health offers a rationale for the endless suspension of civil liberties. The “Global War on Terror” may go on for a generation, but the war on disease will continue until the end of the human race. There will always be a new disease, always the threat of a new pandemic. If that fear justifies the suspension of liberties and the institution of an emergency state, then freedom and the rule of law will be permanently suspended.

It’s usually unjustly applied: The law enforcement/national security approach is unlikely to affect everyone uniformly. While blatantly racist public health policies, such as those instituted by San Francisco in 1900, are unlikely today, we should not assume that the new law enforcement approach to public health will be applied in a fair and equal manner, especially at our borders. Already anti-immigrant advocates mix fears of terrorism and disease as reasons for cracking down on immigrants. Should a new disease outbreak arise, a public health policy that emphasizes coercion and the dangerousness of the sick will most assuredly fall disproportionately on those who already face discrimination and/or are least able to protect themselves. Read more - Lire plus

'Do F-35s Fight Pandemics?' Amid Covid-19 Outbreak, Lawmakers Pushing For Even More Useless Pentagon Spending
Common Dreams 20/03/2020 - As the federal government develops strategies for how to deal with the coronavirus outbreak that has already significantly damaged the U.S. economy and killed over 100 Americans [1000 as of March 26], a group of lawmakers are urging Congress approve the purchasing of 19 more F-35 fighters than the Pentagon requested as part of the battle against the disease, enraging progressives. "Infuriating doesn't even begin to describe it," tweeted Stephen Miles, executive director of Win Without War, on Friday.

According to  Politico, the request for more F-35s came from Democrats and Republicans alike: "It is essential that we continue to increase production of our nation's only 5th generation stealth fighter in order to ensure the United States maintains air dominance and to further reduce overall program costs,"  the lawmakers wrote in a letter  to the chairmen and top Republicans of the House Armed Services Committee and Defense Appropriations panel. The letter was spearheaded by the co-chairs of the Congressional Joint Strike Fighter Caucus — Reps.  John Larson  (D-Conn.),  Marc Veasey  (D-Texas),  Martha Roby  (R-Ala.) and  Mike Turner  (R-Ohio).

"Outrageous priorities of militarists during the coronavirus pandemic," tweeted anti-war group Peace Pledge Union. Win Without War has issued a list of policy demands—laid out in a document titled " U.S. Foreign Policy in the Face of the Coronavirus "—to help guide the government's handling of the crisis. The list includes no more money for Pentagon wars, ending sanctions, protecting refugees and migrants, focusing on international cooperation, and the passage of a Green New Deal. "The greatest security challenges of the 21st century—global inequality, climate change, pandemics—cannot be solved militarily," the document declares. "Years of funneling trillions of dollars into the Pentagon instead of investing in critical human needs have left us woefully unprepared to meet them." Read more - Lire plus
Coronavirus emergency laws will be here long after Covid-19 – and in the hands of the our least trustworthy government ever
The Independent 19/03/2020 - It is scarcely even a full week since the national conversation principally concerned whether Rishi Sunak’s  Budget did or didn’t break the fiscal rules as set in the Conservative Party manifesto, and here we are, rushing through emergency legislation to allow the government to arrest old age pensioners for the crime of going to the shops. These emergency powers, as outlined in the coronavirus bill , are like nothing that’s ever been seen before, certainly not in a hundred years or more. But then, neither is the coronavirus . Naturally, these new powers contain within them the power for the government to grant itself more powers, like a sort of megalomaniac version of using one of your three wishes to wish for infinite wishes.

But no one need worry, because they’re only meant to last two years, and this sort of thing never, ever goes wrong. Whoever could have foreseen, for example, when those planes hit those buildings on that awful sunny September morning, that seven years later, most of the Icelandic population would be posting pictures of themselves on Facebook holding up signs saying “I am not a terrorist”. Why? Well, the anti-terror powers the Labour government saw fit to grant itself, in response to the threat of Al Qaeda in 2001, would be deployed by Gordon Brown in 2008, as a means to rescue British savers’ money from collapsing Icelandic banks.

Who can blame him, in a way? They were desperate times. Desperate measures were required. But it is scant exaggeration to say that every time a government gives itself rights it would not be permitted under normal circumstances, it never quite gives them up again. At Boris Johnson’s most recent press conference, he spoke of the medium- to long-term prognosis of the nation in dealing with this outbreak. In 12 weeks , he said, some semblance of normality will have returned. People who have had the coronavirus, and so built up some kind of resistance to it, will be able to return to work. There will be hundreds of thousands of such people, millions. And yet these people will step out again, into a world in which the government will be able to detain anyone suspected of having Covid-19, fine them for refusing to be tested for it, and to force potentially infected people to isolate, to stop them from travelling and seeing other people.

Such rights and powers make sense now while the supermarkets are empty and a country, indeed a world, braces for impact from a force it doesn’t understand and is too frightened even to fully consider. But there are no sensible voices who don’t think Covid-19 will be with us for anything less than a year, and more likely longer than that. In some senses, it will be with us for good, even though its potency will have diminished, perhaps to little more than a common cold. The Labour Party has requested for the powers to require parliamentary reapproval every six months. But that request is not expected to be passed. It will merely require the government to unilaterally reapprove it every two.

It will, in other words, not be all that long before you can be detained for catching a cold. At that point, the best you can hope for is that you trust your government to act responsibly. That it wouldn’t, say, play fast and loose with the law for its own ends. It wouldn’t, for example, seek to shut down parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit. It wouldn’t restrict access to briefings to a select pool of approved journalists. It wouldn’t be trying to shut down the BBC, and take a flamethrower to the independence of the judiciary. No British government, certainly not in recent times, has been so brazen in using whatever power it can get hold of to do as it pleases. We will have to hope that government – our government – uses these new, and terrifying powers, judiciously. Hope, frankly, is not enough. Read more - Lire plus
UN chief urges immediate global cease-fire to fight COVID-19
PBS 23/03/2020 U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Monday for an immediate cease-fire in conflicts around the world to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.The U.N. chief said: “It is time to put armed conflict on lock down and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”

Guterres said people caught in armed conflicts, which are raging around the world, are among the most vulnerable and “are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19.” He told reporters from U.N. headquarters in New York that it’s time to silence guns, stop artillery, end airstrikes and create corridors for life-saving aid. “End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world,” the secretary-general said. Read more - Lire plus
Retired Australian baker loses appeal in Vietnam on controversial 'financing terrorism' charges
The Guardian 03/03/2020 - A 70-year-old Australian man convicted in a controversial trial in Vietnam for anti-government terrorism offences has told a court he loves Vietnam and its people and was only ever a peaceful advocate for democratic reform. “I want Vietnam to progress and the people to enjoy freedom,” he said. But on Monday Chau Van Kham’s appeal was dismissed by a judge in Ho Chi Minh City who insisted his 12-year prison sentence be upheld. Chau, a retired baker from Sydney , will be 82 when he is released if he serves his full sentence for “financing terrorism”, which is related to his membership of a pro-democracy group, Viet Tan.

His eldest son, Dennis, told the United Nations last month that his trial was a “charade”, and his sentence “effectively a death sentence”. In Chau’s single-day, judge-only trial, held simultaneously with four other people in November, he was tried and convicted and sentenced to 12 years jail, all within four hours. The court was effectively closed. It was open only for approved people and his family was excluded. On Monday the judge hearing his appeal said the original sentence would stand. Vietnam’s public security ministry has said Chau was convicted for holding a senior position in the New South Wales chapter of Viet Tan, for “financing terrorism” and for recruiting members. His two Vietnamese co-defendants, Nguyen Van Vien and Tran Van Quyen, also had their convictions upheld on appeal.

Chau told the court he loved and respected Vietnam and was a member of a legal organisation committed to peaceful democratic reform. “I joined Viet Tan in 2010 because I believe in the peaceful policies of the organisation. In 2016 the Vietnamese government branded Viet Tan as a terrorist organisation while Viet Tan is properly registered and is a legal organisation in [the] USA and Australia. The Australia director of Human Rights Watch, Elaine Pearson, said Chau and his co-accused had been sentenced to 10 or more years on terrorism charges even though they had not been implicated in any violence or terrorism. “They are the latest victims in a spiralling crackdown on dissent and free speech within Vietnam,” she said. “They are among hundreds of political prisoners who are currently detained. Read more - Lire plus
2019 has been very busy, and we are looking at a busy year 2020! Before giving you the summary of what we've been up to in the second half of 2019, here are a few things we will do in 2020:

  • We will continue to call for justice for Dr. Hassan Diab’s case and for the reform of the Extradition Act.

  • We will monitor the implementation of the National Security Act, 2017 (formerly Bill C-59), especially around mass surveillance and immunity for CSIS employees, in order to protect our civil liberties.

  • We will continue to push for a strong and effective review mechanism for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

  • We will continue advocating for the repeal of the Canadian No Fly List, as it violates mobility rights and due process, and for putting a stop to the use of the US No Fly List by air carriers in Canada for flights that do not land in or fly over the US, as it violates both our rights and Canada’s sovereignty.

Say NO to facial recognition in your community
Click on the Action button and send a letter to your city council to stop invasive, biased and unregulated facial recognition surveillance in your community!

Controversial facial recognition technology is spreading in Canada, even though our privacy laws don’t regulate its use. 

If we can get cities to ban facial recognition, we’ll ramp up the pressure on the Canadian government to take action nation-wide. Send the letter below to take action!
Stop CSIS from targeting everyday citizens & community groups
A recent report revealed that CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, collected over 8,000 pages of documents, spying on citizens like you, people who exercise their democratic rights by attending a community meeting at a local church or taking peaceful action for what they believe in. And CSIS shared this info with Big Oil corporations.

Sign this petition to tell the govt to stop using taxpayer money to unconstitutionally spy on Canadians part of peaceful community groups.
Stop Facial Recognition in Canada
Facial recognition is invasive, biased and unreliable. But Canadian agencies and law enforcement have started using the tech despite the huge controversies.
Canada’s out-of-date privacy laws don’t yet cover facial recognition tech, leaving our government free to experiment on us with no oversight or regulations. We need to slam the brakes on the spread of this dangerous technology before it’s too late. Demand a moratorium on the use of facial recognition technologies and a full review of our privacy laws — before it becomes entrenched as a surveillance method in Canada.
Release Yasser Albaz from arbitrary detention in Egypt
It's been more than a year since Yasser has been detained without charge - take action now!

On February 18, 2019, my dad, Yasser Albaz, was stopped at Cairo airport, his Canadian passport was confiscated, and he was kidnapped by Egyptian State Security. My dad remains in the notorious Torah prison where he is forced to sleep on cold, concrete floor. He has not been charged and continues to receive 15-day extensions to his arbitrary detention.

Sign to tell PM Justin Trudeau to do everything in their power to bring this Canadian citizen home to his family.

Canada must act to end Islamophobia in Xinjiang, China
There is credible evidence that up to one million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other mainly Muslim groups in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are being detained in secret internment camps. Detainees are brainwashed, tortured and are forced to renounce their religion and culture.

And send a message to Chrystia Freeland demanding that Canada actively support an independent and unrestricted international fact-finding initiative to Xinjiang.

Saudi Arabia: Free jailed activists
In Saudi Arabia, human rights violations are legitimized through the ‘Specialized Criminal Court’. The past 2 years have seen an unprecedented crackdown on Saudi activists, and this court acts to legitimize this oppression. Now is our chance to put pressure on King Salman to end grave human rights violations.

Sign the petition and demand that the King of Saudi Arabia, King Salman immediately and unconditionally releases all those who have been imprisoned for peacefully protesting.
All-in-one action page: Stop Mohamed Harkat's Deportation to Torture
Call PM Trudeau, write a letter to Public Safety Minister & your MP, and sign Sophie Harkat's petition to stop the deportation of Moe Harkat.

If sent back to Algeria, Moe faces detention, torture and death.

No one should be deported to torture. Ever.
Send a letter opposing cameras in the ByWard Market
Send a letter in support of CAMS Ottawa's response to Mayor Watson. While we share concerns about ongoing violence in the Market, installing surveillance cameras is not an appropriate solution. The very premise that CCTV can deter violent crime is highly doubtful. Video surveillance also raise significant concerns regarding the treatment of marginalized members of our community. We urge you to take the above problems and the following evidence into consideration and reconsider implementing such an ineffective, costly, and intrusive system.
Your phone is not safe at the border
Canada’s border agents can search your phone and laptop at borders and airports, including looking through your private photos, personal messages, and call history.

These ‘digital strip searches’ are allowed because our laws are incredibly out of date. But politicians are refusing to update them for our digital age.

Fight back with us: demand updated laws , learn more about your rights, and make a complaint if your privacy has been violated at the border.
OPP must be held accountable for violent repression of land defenders
The terrifying incident happened in April 2008 during a land occupation and road blockades by members of Tyendinaga Mohawk Nation, near Belleville, Ontario. Although the road blockades involved only a small number of community members – none of whom were armed -- the Ontario Provincial Police sent more than 200 officers, including the Tactics and Rescue Unit (TRU), tasked with responding to “the most serious threats to peace and order”. The UN Committee against Torture called on Canada to launch a thorough and impartial review to ensure accountability.
Five Eyes: Save encryption
Ministers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the U.S. have gone public with their plans for a huge attack on our personal security.

They want to force companies to crush the encryption that protects our private data and messages. But ordinary people need and use encryption every day, in everything from online banking to personal messaging in apps like WhatsApp.

Tell ministers to stop their attacks, and commit to protecting our privacy and security.
Call on Justin Trudeau to ensure justice for Abousfian Abdelrazik
In September 2003, Canadian citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik was arrested in Sudan, while he was back in the country visiting his ailing mother. Over the next three years he was imprisoned for nearly 20 months and was held under house arrest for 12 months. He was denied a lawyer, and was never charged or brought before a judge. During that time he was badly tortured in three different prisons. Not only did Canada fail to take steps to protect him, CSIS officials frequently obstructed efforts to secure his release.
Make January 29 a National Day
On Jan. 29, 2017, a lone gunman entered a mosque in Quebec City and opened fire on dozens of Muslim-Canadian worshipers. By the time the shooting had ended, six had been tragically killed, and 19 more injured. 

 W e, citizens and residents of Canada, call on the government of Canada to henceforth designate January 29th as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia and other forms of religious discrimination or a National Day of Action against Hate and Intolerance .
Access to information
Accès à l'information

Anti-terror legislation
Législation antiterroriste

Les opinions exprimées ne reflètent pas nécessairement les positions de la CSILC - The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the positions of ICLMG.
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