Went to a protest today

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Against what: A new federal bill, C-51, which smooths the road toward a police state in Canada. The bill is currently winding its way through Parliament.

C 51 protest

Photo: Canadian Press

After protests across the country and from many sources, the ruling Conservative regime has made a show of amending the bill.  Like paint slapped on a rotting house, the proposed changes will have minimal impact on the bill’s nightmarish potential.

So, today’s protest.

Where: At the Belleville constituency office of Daryl Kramp, the local Member of Parliament. He’s a Conservative, ie a Northern Republican, and he’s chairing the committee currently sliding the bill through Parliament. Kramp was absent from the Belleville office today, being rather busy in Ottawa.

Who: 40 – 50 people from the area who are alarmed enough by what they’ve learned about this bill to protest it in public. The rally was called on short notice, in response to the proposed ‘amendments.’

After a few decades protesting a panorama of injustices, bigotry, stupidity, greed, crimes against the earth, abuse of power, state terror and such, at today’s protest I experienced a familiar mix of reactions:

I believe it’s crucial to be here, to inform the powerful that some of us see through their lies, and care enough to resist their schemes to the extent that we can. On the other hand, knowing how power is constructed, I suspect our resistance is too little, too late. On the other hand, it’s crucial that we be here. On the other hand…

This mix, and the gradual shedding of illusions over years, eventually led me to stop going to protests like this one.  But then I was grateful that some people took the trouble to organize it, and that other people bothered to show up on a bright spring afternoon in the middle of a week. But then I know well enough that the real decisions are made far from here, in cabinet rooms and board rooms, by sociopaths in suits, over lunch.

Even so, how can I justify staying home in my comfortable, safe little cave, pretending that I accomplish anything that matters simply by writing?  And who knows what effect each of these acts of resistance might have?  The arrogant managers would have us believe they are oblivious to our protests, and nothing we do will make any difference.  But when they lie about practically everything else, why not about this, too?  Wouldn’t things be that much worse if we left them to their own devices?

It’s a dilemma.

What do you think?

 

 

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‘A historic victory’: The internet is ours

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“We did it! The FCC just voted to stop the slow lane!”

Internet slowdown protest

This is good news. It’s amazing news.

“The stakes couldn’t have been higher. With so many websites based in the US, the future of the entire Internet hung in the balance.”

A year ago, the open internet looked doomed. The huge bully corporations that monopolize cable and wireless provision announce plans for a two-speed internet: fast for those who could pay, slow – very slow – for the rest of us.

The Federal Communications Commission, responsible for overseeing such things, is not noted for favouring public over corporate interests. Its current chair, Tom Wheeler, is a venture capitalist and former head lobbyist for both the cable and wireless industries, which worked hard behind closed doors and spent lavishly to ensure their stranglehold on the internet.

Erupting in May 2014, a small resistance grew quickly into a multi-faceted, finely coordinated international public campaign, eventually engaging more than 5 million people in protecting our internet. It worked.

On February 26 the FCC commissioners voted 3 – 2 (close, but good enough) to keep the internet open. The details are here (same story, two variations):

Outraged, the bully corps leapt immediately to sue the government, and right-wingers in the US Congress obediently set about sabotaging the historic ruling. Of course.

But still, for now, we can celebrate. This is a rare victory for open communication, equity and freedom of speech.

In Canada, OpenMedia.ca led the campaign, one of many on their docket. This small but formidable grassroots organization is independent, creative and vital.

For more on what’s at stake, check out Bold Scientists, chapter 6, The Cloud.

(Image: popsugar.com)

Oh Canada, glorious and free*

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(* from Canada’s national anthem.  No irony intended, I assume).

Just revealed by The Intercept: Canada Casts Global Surveillance Dragnet Over File Downloads

This marks a new low in Canada’s data hoovering as a junior partner in the US-run War on Terror TM.

Maple leaf, dead

More detail here, at CBC News.

According to OpenMedia.ca, “The data they’re collecting can identify everything from your sexual orientation, religious and political beliefs, to your medical history. This sensitive information is being shared with the spy agencies of several other countries, without our knowledge or consent.”

If you oppose secretive, ever-expanding, high-cost, out-of-control spying on all of us, say so now.

This week, the Harper regime introduced dangerous new anti-terrorism legislation that will give spy agencies even more powers.

Michael Vonn, Policy Director, BC Civil Liberties Association: “Canada has utterly failed to respond to the urgent need for national security oversight and instead, proposes an unprecedented expansion of powers that will harm innocent Canadians and not increase our public safety.”

Tell the Harper regime: Cease and desist, back off, quit spying on us.

For more on the steady advance of the national security state in Canada, see Bold Scientists. Scroll down to chapter 6, The cloud.

For further details and resources, check out Transparent Lives: Surveillance in Canada.

(Photo: http://www.pxleyes.com)

 

 

CSEC: We pay for it. It spies on us.

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“An ultra-secretive government agency is collecting hugely revealing information on thousands of law-abiding Canadians.”

csec

Communications Security Establishment Canada.  We pay for it, they spy on us. That’s the deal.  They spy on all our communications, all the time: phone, email and internet, contacts, conversations, relationships, religious and political affiliations, medical records, financial transactions….

OpenMedia.ca is on the case.  But they can’t do it alone. The Canadian government needs to hear a very loud NO from everyone of us who cares.

David Lyon, world authority on surveillance and social control: “Indifference is appropriate only for those who think that efficiency, convenience and speed qualify as values to be placed over openness, fairness, and the accountability of those whose task it is to process personal data.”

Add your voice here: https://openmedia.ca/CSECisWatching?src=156782.

More on David Lyon, our very Transparent Lives and ‘social sorting’ in Bold ScientistsRead an excerpt here.

And pass it on, far and wide.

The undead

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The Harper regime’s online spying law is back.

In 2012, you may have joined a national campaign to block their highly invasive online spying legislation, Bill C-30.  The government claimed it would “help police combat child pornography.” But many critics, including the federal privacy commissioner, noticed the sweeping legislation would force internet service providers to maintain systems allowing police to intercept and track online communications without a warrant, effectively wiping out fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of speech.  The intent was clear: Increased powers for a surveillance-obsessed regime.

OpenMedia.ca led a national campaign to kill the Bill.  Internet censorshipIn February 2013, the federal Minister of Justice announced that the government “would not proceed” with Bill C-30.  “We’ve listened to the concerns of Canadians who have been very clear on this.”  Nor, he added, would the government pursue any other measures for “the warrantless mandatory disclosure of basic subscriber information or the requirement for telecommunications service providers to build intercept capability within their systems.”

Turns out they lied.

Now known as Bill C-13, the undead spy bill is back.  Now they claim it’s to fight cyberbullying.  A good thing to fight.  But it’s a cover.  Bill C-13 consists of just 2.5 pages aimed at cyberbullying, and 65 pages aimed at making it easier for the government to spy on the online activities of all Canadians.  These provisions are lifted straight from Bill C-30.   Micheal Vonn, BC Civil Liberties Association: “This is not a bill about cyberbullying.  It’s a bill essentially to reintroduce most of the components of Bill C-30, despite the government’s assurances that they would not do so.”

It’s not too late to join the resistance.  Here’s how.

(Follow this story in What next? Doing science in dangerous times.  Coming in 2014 from Between the Lines.)