International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
May 8 2020
Reminder: The News Digest is now published once every two weeks
Pandemics & Civil Liberties - A panel featuring ICLMG's Tim McSorley
The coronavirus poses a threat to our individual and collective future. As governments attempt to deal with the pandemic, they face apparent trade-offs between collective well-being and individual human rights and civil liberties. Join a panel of experts to explore options and alternatives. This panel is part of the CFE Virtual Forum Series.

  • Brenda McPhail, Director, Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s Privacy, Surveillance, and Technology Project.
  • Stephanie Perrin, President, Digital Discretion Inc.
  • Renu Mandhane, Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission
  • Tim McSorley, National Coordinator, International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

Moderator: James L. Turk, Director, Centre for Free Expression, Ryerson University

This is a free event and no registration is required. Co-sponsored by the Centre for Free Expression, PEN Canada and Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Source
RCMP to boost social media mining for threats ranging from disease to shootings
The Canadian Press 28/04/2020 - Canada’s national police force wants a digital tool to harvest data from a sweeping variety of online sources, including the darkest reaches of the internet, to provide early information on threats such as disease outbreaks and mass shootings. The software would allow an RCMP officer to quickly mine data about a person’s internet activities, from an emoji posting on Facebook to an illicit firearm purchase on the so-called darknet. “Social media and publicly available information will be used to identify threats and address public concerns,” says the RCMP contract tender.

The application would also help spot brewing public-relations issues “and enhance strategic, operational and tactical information for improved decision-making in a crisis or major-event setting.” The tender says the tool should include a dashboard with reports on breaking news, mass-casualty events, terrorist attacks, disease outbreaks and natural disasters. Such trawling of open-source material by the Mounties has also raised privacy questions. A Toronto activist concerned about mining-industry abuses recently learned the Mounties compiled a six-page profile of her shortly after she showed up at a federal leaders debate during the 2015 election campaign.

Rachel Small, an organizer with the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, said it was “kind of creepy and unsettling” to see the RCMP profile, which came to light years later through an access-to-information request. The new software tool would sift publicly available Internet data sources and content including, but not limited to, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, chatrooms, message boards, social networks, and video and image-sharing websites. The tender suggests the tool have a broach reach, capable of turning up data from cyberspots such as deal-shopping site Groupon and gaming platform Farmville. Read more

The Perils of Hyping Pandemic Response as a National Security Issue
Just Security 04/05/2020 - There has got to be another way of saying an issue is critical other than saying it is a matter of utmost national security. For some time, a number of commentators have warned that U.S. national security policy is off-kilter. Their argument: It places too much emphasis on fighting wars with ill-defined and possibly unattainable objectives, and pays too little attention to threats like climate change and infectious diseases. Appropriately enough, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an updraft for these arguments, including in powerful pieces recently penned by Oona Hathaway , Samantha Power , Ben Rhodes , Katrina vanden Heuvel, and others.

Read together, these works highlight the mismatch between the U.S. government’s spending on counterterrorism (an eye-popping average of $185 billion per year in the decade and a half following 9/11) and its relatively paltry expenditure on pandemic and emerging infectious disease programs ($2 billion per year on average in the past decade). Their line of analysis is also wise to observe that the coronavirus pandemic has proven vastly more lethal than the September 11 attacks–having killed 20 times as many people at this writing. Against this backdrop, Oona Hathaway suggests that it’s time to “rethink what national security should mean” and that we should “broaden the lens of national security to think about all serious global threats to human life.”

Well, yes but also no. Pouring more resources into confronting threats shared by humanity as a whole—like infectious disease—is a welcome idea. But doing so chiefly by emphasizing the national security dimension of these challenges is a perilous strategy. In its effort to substitute new global challenges for the terrorism threat, it risks replicating the trend toward executive branch overreach born of 9/11, without shrinking the disproportionate role played by counterterrorism in our national security apparatus since that time. [...] If the pandemic has taught us anything it should be that investments in social and economic justice are as important as national security—not that in order to be important they have to fit under the latter label. At the same time, the “redefine national security” narrative raises the question of what else policymakers will bring along in the name of redefinition, and whether they might be tempted to follow a familiar drive: expanding and exploiting the deep reservoirs of extraordinary authority provided the executive branch to deal with national security threats and emergencies.

These powers are already prodigious. They include statutes like the Defense Production Act, which permits the government to compel private businesses to prioritize its contracts, and the National Emergencies Act, which permits the executive branch to declare a national emergency and avail itself of a staggering array of special powe rs. Those are only the tip of the iceberg. National security is hard-wired into the American legal system as a basis for avoiding the checks and balances that normally rein in the executive branch. By invoking national security, an administration can open up a world of flexibility for itself– bypassing human rights restrictions on foreign assistance, suspending immigration , imposing (or lifting congressionally imposed) sanctions , and classifying information to shield it from public disclosure. Read more - Lire plus

US-Backed Forces Killed Twice as Many Children as Taliban and ISIS Did During 1st Quarter of 2020
Common Dreams 28/04/2020 - New data released Monday from the United Nations finds that U.S.-backed forces in Afghanistan were responsible for killing more than twice as many children as did extremists during the first three months of 2020. The figures come from the latest quarterly report by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

From January 1 - March 31, said UNAMA, there were 1,293 civilian casualties in Afghanistan, including 533 killed and 760 injured. The tally reflects a 29% decrease compared to the same three-month period last year but still underscores that "the conflict in Afghanistan continues to be one of the deadliest in the world for civilians, at a time when the potential impact of COVID-19 poses a threat to all individuals in Afghanistan," said UNAMA. [...] The figures come roughly one month after U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called for a global ceasefire in the face of the coronavirus pandemic—a call which has faced pushback from the U.S. and Russia. "The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war," Guterres said in March. Read more - Lire plus

Legal Observer: Guantanamo 9/11 Trial Is A Failure
Law360 03/05/2020 - Secluded in temporary trailers atop an abandoned airstrip in an enclave of Cuba, the most important criminal case in United States history has managed to largely evade public view. Yet upon closer inspection, the prosecution of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his accused 9/11 co-conspirators does not even appear designed to secure sustainable convictions and bring these alleged terrorists to justice. Instead, the Guantanamo military commissions seem a contrived attempt to avoid federal criminal court and thereby insulate the CIA from the legal implications of its torture program. The resulting tribunal, however, is likely fatally plagued by its constitutional and logistical shortcomings. During my recent observations at pretrial proceedings in Guantanamo, the flaws appeared endless.

Prosecutors can unilaterally withhold evidence by invoking national security privilege, immune even from judicial review. Defense teams, hampered by funding and security clearance delays, face up to two-year waits for new hires, without which the case could grind to a total halt. Questions remain whether military officer jurors will be genuinely free at trial to vote their conscience without fear of reprisal. More alarmingly, it is not even clear that the conspiracy charge against the 9/11 defendants is a war crime triable by a military commission: It is entirely possible that should the case ever make it through a trial, convictions would be tossed out on appeal years from now for lack of jurisdiction. Above all these myriad concerns looms the issue of CIA torture. Since evidence of this torture can mitigate the death penalty, any roadblock to its exposition undermines the commissions' legitimacy. Yet the CIA has unexpectedly forbidden defense counsel from speaking to any current or former agents about torture whatsoever.

Agency officials remotely instruct prosecutors to cut the courtroom's public feed when purportedly classified information about the torture program is divulged; in some sessions, repeated contested use of this power quickly becomes farcical, as defense lawyers gesticulate wildly but inaudibly beyond soundproof glass. Recently, defense teams were even denied access to the still-classified Senate Intelligence investigation into CIA torture, despite its centrality to their clients' cases. As Brig. Gen. John Baker, the Marine one-star general overseeing the Guantanamo defense counsel, declared in March, "our nation has a floor of due process for capital litigation, and the ceiling of due process that the commissions provides is always below that floor."

Recognizing this quagmire, U.S. Department of Defense officials were in the process of negotiating guilty pleas carrying life sentences from all five defendants in 2017, but an intervention from then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions scuttled the potential deal and prolonged the case. And with the retirement on March 23 of Col. W. Shane Cohen — already the third military judge to preside over the 9/11 case in less than two years — the scheduled 2021 trial date has become practically impossible. Cohen's successor, yet to be announced, will inherit hundreds of legal filings and a trial transcript of more than 30,000 pages. Nearly 20 years on from that horrific September morning, trying the 9/11 case in Guantanamo has become a frustratingly Sisyphean task. Read more - Lire plus

No, the Post-9/11 Era Is Not Over
J. Wells Dixon, from the Center for Constitutional Rights, responds to a text written by Ben Rhodes, Former deputy national security adviser to Barack Obama.
The Atlantic 29/04/2020 - In the bowels of the CIA, there is a sign that reads every day is september 12th. “As a New Yorker who witnessed the 9/11 attacks, I once felt that way myself,” Ben Rhodes wrote earlier this month , “but by the time I saw the sign, during the second term of the Obama administration, it seemed to ignore all the things that our country had gotten wrong because of that mindset. Now, as COVID-19 has transformed the way that Americans live, and threatens to claim exponentially more lives than any terrorist has, it is time to finally end the chapter of our history that began on September 11, 2001.”

Ben Rhodes is right to acknowledge what many of us anticipated soon after the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001, and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan nearly 20 years ago: that our response to the attacks has done more harm than good. He provides examples that no student of history could credibly dispute, including opening the prison at Guantánamo Bay, torturing detainees, and the invasion of Iraq. There is much blame to go around for those failures, which have led to many lives lost, exacerbating many times over the devastation of 9/11. Mr. Rhodes comes up short, however, by not acknowledging sufficiently the Obama administration’s share of responsibility for failing to remedy, and in some instances compounding, the missteps of the prior administration. President Barack Obama undoubtedly wanted to end the “post-9/11 period” and move U.S. national security and foreign policy away from a focus on terrorism, but regrettably his actions often led elsewhere. His administration often claimed legal authority to do what his predecessor had claimed authority to do without legal constraints under the guise of fighting terrorism.

This included surveilling electronic communications of U.S. citizens without warrants, expanding the use of armed drones based on dubious legal opinions about what constitutes an imminent threat, and claiming authority to hold detainees at Guantánamo Bay indefinitely and without charge by picking and choosing which armed-conflict rules to apply to them. The administration also preferred to look forward, not backward, and consequently failed to prosecute or hold anyone accountable for torturing detainees. Rather, President Obama was willing to overlook the involvement of his administration officials in those grave crimes.

Nowhere is President Obama’s failure to move away from the post-9/11 era more apparent than his failure to close Guantánamo Bay, which Amnesty International aptly labeled “the gulag of our times” in 2005. President Obama repeatedly emphasized his genuine desire to close the prison, and his State Department made substantial efforts to reduce the detainee population. But closure efforts stalled for two years, due in part to his unwillingness to fight congressional intransigence, until he was forced to restart them in 2013, in response to a widespread hunger strike at the prison. In what can only be described as self-loathing toward its own closure policy, the administration also continued until its last day in office to fight reflexively against detainee court challenges requesting release, including cases where the administration itself had long ago determined that the detainee did not pose a substantial threat to the U.S. and should be transferred.

The post-9/11 era has not ended for the 40 men who remain at Guantánamo Bay—28 of whom are not currently charged with a crime—or for their loved ones, who may struggle to remember their faces after a generation of absence and loss. (Some have even been cleared for transfer for more than a decade.) The detained men cheered when President Obama was elected and promised to close the prison more than a decade ago. Now many wait for death, a result that could befall the aging and ailing population sooner rather than later, particularly if the coronavirus spreads inside the wire. Yet they worry about their families, and their children, some of whom were born after their capture and are now teenagers they have never met, who must face the global pandemic without them. Though Mr. Rhodes may attribute the present situation to gravitational forces, quicksand beneath their feet, or other circumstances beyond their control, the truth is that the fate of these detained men is measurably the result of policy choices made and actions taken by President Obama and his administration, including Mr. Rhodes. Guantánamo Bay’s continued existence was not inevitable.

No, the post-9/11 era that Mr. Rhodes was “roused” to join when he moved to Washington so many years ago is certainly not over for those whose lives have been upended by America’s global War on Terror. Nor is it over for the victims of the 9/11 attacks, because the military commission system that President Obama attempted to reform has failed to successfully prosecute a single defendant alleged to have orchestrated the attacks. Many who were affected in different ways by 9/11 continue to endure the lasting consequences of the U.S. response to the attacks every day. We may face a deadly pandemic that will claim more than 100,000 lives, but we cannot simply move on from the devastation caused by the misguided U.S. response to 9/11, which has been waged for nearly two decades.

Ending the post-9/11 era requires decisive action, including closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay. Mr. Rhodes is right that in the aftermath of 9/11, America “committed the familiar mistake of hastening a superpower’s decline through overreach,” which President Donald Trump accelerates by exploiting “anger, grievance, nationalism, and crude racism to win political support.” We therefore must look ahead to the future, to a new administration, to bring an end affirmatively to the post-9/11 era. This can happen only through deliberate action rather than the passage of time and the onset of a global pandemic. Source
The FBI Violates FISA…Again
Just Security 01/05/2020 - Every year, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) releases a statistical transparency report on the use of national security authorities. The report, which began as a voluntary undertaking and is now a statutory requirement, is useful for detecting trends and patterns in foreign intelligence surveillance. For instance, the reports have revealed a steady increase in the number of targets under Section 702 of FISA (from 89,138 in 2013 to 204,968 in 2019), as well as the acquisition of a massive number of Americans’ phone records (over a billion between 2015 and 2018) under a program that was intended to replace bulk collection. Buried in the 2019 report —released by ODNI on Thursday—is information of a different nature: a major instance of non-compliance with the law that ODNI hasn’t previously reported, and that directly implicates the constitutional rights of Americans.

To understand the violation in question, a bit of background is necessary. Under Section 702 of FISA, enacted in 2008, the National Security Agency (NSA) collects hundreds of millions of electronic communications each year. No warrant is required for this collection because the targets of surveillance are foreigners overseas. However, massive amounts of Americans’ communications are “incidentally” collected in the process. Recognizing the inevitability of this spillover, Congress sought to protect Americans’ constitutional rights by requiring the government to “minimize” the retention, use, and sharing of information about U.S. persons incidentally acquired under Section 702. Instead, as we learned through Edward Snowden’s disclosures in 2013, the FBI routinely helps itself to this data, combing through communications obtained under Section 702 to find Americans’ phone calls, e-mails, and text messages for use in purely domestic criminal investigations. This practice is commonly known as “backdoor searches.”

When Section 702 came up for reauthorization in late 2017, civil liberties advocates pushed to end backdoor searches by requiring the government to obtain a warrant before conducting U.S. person queries. Ultimately, Congress required the FBI to obtain a warrant in only a small subset of cases—criminal investigations not relating to national security that had reached a certain stage of the investigation—and only after the query is conducted (but before reviewing the contents of any communications). As minimal as this requirement is, the 2019 statistical transparency report reveals that the FBI has failed to comply with it in literally every relevant case. [...]

The lesson should be clear. Multiple FISA authorities that enable either the direct or “incidental” collection of Americans’ information rely on statutory and/or court-imposed limitations on how that data is accessed, shared, and kept. Scrupulous adherence to those limitations is necessary to safeguard Americans’ privacy and, in many cases, their constitutional rights. After 12 years of repeated and systemic violations, Congress cannot continue to hand the government sweeping powers to collect Americans’ most personal data on the assumption that the FBI is following the rules, or that the FISA Court’s interventions will put an end to any non-compliance. Instead, in order to adequately protect Americans’ rights, Congress must begin to put stricter limits on the scope of collection itself. Read more - Lire plus
New report: The legal response of Western democracies to online terrorism and extremism and its impact on the right to privacy and freedom of expression
Vox Pol 2020 - General Findings on Criminal Law: The use of criminal law for charging people when it comes to online activity has grown dramatically since 2015 in most of the countries featured in the report. The leaders in this area are the UK, France, Spain and Israel, who charge hundreds of people every year based on their online statements. Increasing numbers of new felonies regarding online activity have been introduced in those countries, including at the European level in the directive on combating terrorism of 2017.

This overzealous legislation and use of criminal law has led to criticisms on several points. First, the trend of expanding criminal law when it comes to online content has been constantly pushed, leading to a situation whereby both the UK and France have passed laws that criminalise accessing or viewing extremist content online, without even expressing support for it. Second, many of the new laws contain definitions of the legal terms ‘terrorism’, ‘incitement’, ‘apology’ and ‘glorification’ that are too widely defined and lack a clear need for intention or acknowledgment of risk. This legislation has created a situation where mild statements, jokes, art or clear political views have been cause for charging people with a criminal offence. Although some will say this phenomenon can be limited by using prosecutorial discretion, it is still contradictory to the rule of law. And third, the report shows evidence from Israel, the US and Spain of biased prosecutions and punishments against jihadi and leftist online statements, but taking a more lenient approach towards right-wing extremist online activity. This kind of situation presents an inherited problem in terms of the prosecution of felonies of speech in countries with a major political conflict, as the current ruling side are more likely to perceive statements made by the opposing political side as more dangerous than statements made by its supporters, extremist as they may be.

On Administrative Law: Most of the countries in the report use administrative counter-terrorism measures, mainly in order to control and monitor the entry and exit of people from their countries, where an increasing number of the decisions are based on the subject’s online profile and activity. These non-judicial actions again raise the fear that, in some cases, decisions are based more on the political content of the online activity and less on the security risk that arises from it. France and the UK are the most active in using administrative law when it comes to other aspects of counter-terrorism, such as restrictions on residence, travel, move-ments, communications, possessions and work. The main problem with these legal mechanisms is that these administrative warrants are oftentimes based, at least in part, on secret evidence gathered by intelligence agencies. Although the use of secret evidence was restricted by the European Court of Human Rights in A. and Others v. the United Kingdom, a lot of the secret evidence contains data based on individuals’ online activity, creating a situation where a person is sanctioned administratively based on their online activities without being given the chance to explain them, since these activities are part of the secret evidence. Read more - Lire plus
Use of Skype, Tango, TikTok, WhatsApp can be considered terrorist activity in Turkey
Nordic Monitor 25/04/2020 - The use of popular social networking and communication platforms such as Facebook, Skype, Tango, WhatsApp, Coco, Kakao, Falco, Coverme and TikTok may very well be considered evidence of terrorism in Turkey, documents obtained by Nordic Monitor have revealed. According to the documents, the Çorum Police Department’s Anti-smuggling and Organized Crime Department detained a suspect identified as Ahmet Can on April 26, 2019 on terrorism-related charges. When he was interrogated at the order of the Çorum Public Prosecutor’s Office, the police asked him, among other things, if he had downloaded or ever used Tango, Viber, Coverme, TikTok, Crack, ByLock, Eagle, Coco, Falco or other networking and communication applications. Turkey’s notoriously broad and ambiguous anti-terror legislation, which has been turned into a scourge on dissidents in the hands of the country’s overzealous police and prosecutors, is, to all appearances, susceptible to such an interpretation and misuse.

Can was accused of membership in an armed terrorist organization, providing finance thereto and disseminating terrorist propaganda, the usual charges Turkish authorities level against government critics, opponents and dissidents. Can was accused of affiliation with the Gülen movement, led by a scholar named Fethullah Gülen, who has been living in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999. Gülen has been critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on a range of issues including his increasing authoritarianism, his aiding and abetting of jihadists in the Syrian civil war and his corrupt politics. Erdoğan’s government branded Gülen as a terrorist in 2014, immediately after major corruption investigations that were made public in December 2013 and that incriminated Erdoğan, his family members and political and business associates. He blamed Gülen for instigating the corruption probes, a claim that was denied by Gülen. The police further asked Can whether he had taken part in or supported press meetings held by Gülen movement-affiliated NGOs aimed at protesting controversial practices of the Ministry of Education.

Another document, an indictment of 36 suspects drafted by public prosecutor Okan Bato, refers to the use of Skype, Tango and WhatsApp as a means of communication among Gülenists. According to the indictment, part of investigation case file No. 2015/64148, members of the Gülen movement preferred to use those online communication programs because they were affordable and encrypted. Criminalizing communication and social networking tools and citing their use as terrorist activity, Turkey’s public prosecutors have investigated more than 500,000 dissidents and put more than 90,000 of them behind bars without taking pains to show how they could be equated with criminal acts and without further substantiating their claims. This circumstance has been highlighted by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which ruled on September 18, 2019, in a complaint lodged by two judges arrested on terrorism-related charges due to their mere use of ByLock, that their deprivation of liberty was arbitrary. According to the working group “use [of] the ByLock application… would have been merely an exercise of their freedom of expression.”

Turkey has refused to give effect to this decision. Statistics of the European Court of Human Rights show that Turkey is, with 356 violations, by far the top violator of freedom of expression in the 60-year history of the court. The second biggest violator, the Russian Federation, has violated this freedom in just 76 cases between 1959 and 2019. Turkey has been tightening its grip on social media. People think that authorities are tapping into their emails or social media accounts, thus sparking fear and self-censorship among ordinary citizens. The Ministry of Interior stated that between January 1 and April 9, 2019 it examined 10,250 social media accounts and took legal action against more than 3,600 users who are accused of propagandizing or promoting terrorist organizations, inciting persons to enmity and hostility, or insulting state institutions. Read more - Lire plus
Hong Kong urged to review terrorism and sedition legislation after United Nations experts say they can be used against lawful protests
SCMP 29/04/2020 - In a letter to the Chinese delegation in Geneva last Thursday, which was made available to local rights groups on Tuesday, six special rapporteurs said the legislation should be brought in line with the international human rights treaties that apply to Hong Kong. [...]

City authorities are looking at using Hong Kong’s United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Ordinance, passed in 2004 in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the United States. The ordinance allows for the arrest or freezing of assets of those suspected to be involved in a “terrorist act”, which is defined as, but not limited to, causing serious violence or damage to property or interference with essential services to compel the government or part of the public “for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause”. But the UN experts said that definition of “terrorist acts” went beyond the terms agreed by the UN Security Council under international law, which focused on the targeting of civilians.

They also said the laws were too broad by not introducing exemptions for actions taken during any advocacy, protest, dissent or industrial action. The special rapporteurs wrote: “We note that imprecise and overly broad definitions of terrorist actions can include actions protected by human rights law, such as peaceful actions to protect … labour rights, minority rights or human rights, and, particularly, the right of association and peaceful assembly.” They reminded the Hong Kong government that counterterrorism legislation was “not the appropriate mechanism for the restriction of human rights”. “A state shall not invoke national security as a justification for measures aimed at suppressing opposition or to justify repressive practices against its population,” the letter added. Read more - Lire plus
Amid Its Covid-19 Crisis, China Was Still Hacking Uighurs’ iPhones
Wired 22/04/2020 - China may have been one of the first countries to lock down over the first months of 2020, as Covid-19 began its global spread. But that didn't stop suspected Chinese spies from carrying out a new smartphone-hacking campaign aimed at one of their favorite targets: the country's Uighur ethnic minority. From as early as December of last year and continuing through March, Chinese hackers used so-called "watering hole" attacks to plant malware on the iPhones of Uighurs, according to new findings from the security firm Volexity. To do so, a hacker group that Volexity calls Evil Eye compromised popular Uighur websites, including the news and education site Uyghur Academy and the Uighur Times news outlet. Visiting those sites on an iPhone would automatically infect the device with sophisticated spyware designed to gain access to its data, particularly messaging applications.

That indiscriminate web-based hacking campaign is remarkable not just because it occurred during the peak of China's novel coronavirus crisis, but also because it began just months after Volexity and Google publicly revealed that the same Evil Eye group was hacking smartphones via those same websites, using a rare collection of previously unknown iOS software vulnerabilities —also known as zero-day vulnerabilities —that shocked the cybersecurity world. The security research group Citizen Lab found that the same zero-day vulnerabilities were also being used to target Tibetan victims, which Volexity sees as a suggestion that the hackers were likely carrying out domestic surveillance on behalf of the Chinese government. The country has faced international criticism over its treatment of both ethnic groups, with a growing focus in recent years on the reported suppression of Uighurs in the Xinjiang region of western China. Read more - Lire plus
NEW Protect our privacy during COVID-19
In Canada, Trudeau has stated that “all options are on the table to do what is necessary”, and several provinces are moving forward with phone tracking plans.
Clear boundaries are needed to limit the potential harm of such plans to our rights. Sign the petition telling our government to commit to key privacy principles for any tracking measures put in place.

To: Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health; Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency; David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada; Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada:

Please commit to respecting these seven privacy principles should any kind of cell phone data gathering or tracking be implemented in the fight against COVID-19. While emergencies can call for special measures, we should not unnecessarily compromise our privacy or rights.
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 law enforcement and agencies have started using the tech despite its dangers. 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 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 now.

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 .
Academic freedom
Liberté académique

Criminalization of dissent
Criminalisation de la dissidence

Facial recognition
Reconnaissance faciale

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.

Les opinions exprimées ne reflètent pas nécessairement les positions de la CSILC - The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the positions of ICLMG.
to our amazing supporters!
We would like to thank all our member organizations, and our patrons who are supporting ICLMG on Patreon ! As a reward, we are listing our patrons who give $10 or more per month (and wanted to be listed) directly in the News Digest. Without you, our work wouldn't be possible!

Kathryn Dingle
Mary Ann Higgs
Kevin Malseed
Brian Murphy
Karen Seabrooke
Colin Stuart
James Turk
Jo Wood
The late Bob Stevenson

Nous tenons à remercier nos organisations membres et toutes les personnes qui soutiennent la CSILC sur Patreon ! En récompense, nous nommons ci-dessus nos mécènes qui donnent 10$ ou plus par mois directement dans le News Digest. Sans vous, notre travail ne serait pas possible!