Author Archives: tarunb2014

Data Doubles and Function Creep Within Police Databases

It has recently come to the attention of the Toronto Star that hundreds of thousand of people are listed within the RCMP’s Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) despite having no convictions or charges. Many of these people are people who have mental health issues. As of currently there is not legislation around the situation which leaves police to do as they please. Ann Cavoukin (Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner), states that new legislation is needed which directs the police on what information they are able to give to employers, volunteer organizations and governments. People who have not even committed a criminal offence are listed within CPIC and it affects their lives negatively.

People like Diane, has had her life affected negatively due to the CPIC. Regarding an incident where her spouse committed self-harm and falsely reported to the police that Diane attacked him, she was arrested and charged. After this incident, 11 months later the charges were withdrawn but Diane’s name remained in CPIC. Diane ran into problems with this when her workplace required a “vulnerable sector police check.” Of course within this check the incident that had taken place even though the charges were withdrawn had come up. Diane eventually removed the charge within CPIC only after multiple appeals. CPIC should be used for containing criminal records only of those charged and convicted in order to keep track of people with an actual criminal record. Police may argue that it is used for safety of the person, community and just to keep track of the individual. But due to the fact that people’s lives are being affected by this negatively, the names of those not charged should not remain stored.

The terms “data double and “function creep” help us make sense of the results of the Toronto Star investigation. These terms, discussed by Ericson and Haggerty are as follows: data double is defined as “our vital/informational profiles that circulate in various computers and contexts of practical application.” Function creep is defined as “the gradual widening of the use of a technology or system beyond the purpose for which it was originally intended.” This term applies directly, the police are using CPIC, beyond what it is supposed to do. It is just supposed to carry the names of people who have a criminal record, but instead the police are using it to carry the names of hundreds of thousands of Canadians, who have not even been charged or convicted. Yet these names remain within CPIC, and are affecting lives when this should not be happening within the first place. New legislation is indeed needed in order to protect Canadians from harm which is caused by CPIC.

 References

Haggerty, K. D., & Ericson, R. V. (2006). The New Politics of Surveillance and Visibility. In R. V. Ericson & K. D. Haggerty (Eds.), The new politics of surveillance and visibility (pp. 3–25). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Carlson, J. (2014, May 24). 420,000 in police database never convicted: Analysis. Toronto Star. Retrieved from:

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/05/24/420000_in_police_database_never_convicted_analysis.html

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Temporary Foreign Workers Program and Seasonal Agricultural Program

Food for Thought:

Briefly describe the Temporary Foreign Workers program and provide an overview of the recent controversy surrounding this practice (this should take up no more than 1/3 of your post). Then draw on Marxist legal theory to explain the program and the controversy.

The temporary foreign workers program (TFWP) allows Canadian employers to employ foreign workers when having difficulty or simply cannot find people for work. A branch of this program is the seasonal agricultural workers program (SAWP). But this program focuses around agricultural means, yet both programs (TFWP and SWAP) have similar problems. In both cases, the workers who are brought from different countries for a temporary basis, face alienation and exploitation.

Karl Marx’s work can be applied to these programs. Marx differentiates between the upper class and working class. Within these programs the working class would be the foreign workers who come from different countries for work. While the upper class, which can also be seen as the capitalists, are the employers themselves. The employers employ these foreign workers and these workers are “cheaper” then Canadian workers. Therefore the Capitalists are making as much as possible but cutting down on costs as much as possible. These workers exchange their labor for a wage, they do not get a say in what they are creating and what not, hence, an alienation from the production of the product.

Another type of alienation is the alienation from the product itself. These foreign workers may produce the product but at the end of the day they are not able to afford the item that they have produced. There is also the alienation from other workers. Workers compete with one another, for if a worker is not working hard enough in accordance to the employer, they can be sent back to their country. That level of competition brings in the aspect of alienation from other workers. Not only that, but there is also the alienation from a social life. These foreign workers do not have a social life for they are working most of the time. For the days off for example, one may think they have family in Canada that the worker may be able to visit. But the government places these workers where there is a need of workers. So a worker may have family in Vancouver but placed in Alberta, therefore not being able to see their family and only working.

These workers face many injustices yet there are very minimum cases where the employers face punishment. There are many workers who are looking for work, and it is very easy for a employer to send a worker back and hire another worker. Therefore workers may not speak out, for they are in fear of being sent back home and not having work because they know they can be easily replaced.

Just as one of Marx’s ideas, with laws and rules regarding these programs reflect the ideas of the ruling class (capitalists). That can be portrayed through how easy it is for the employers to send the workers back and how there have been such few cases where the employers face actual punishment for the injustices they have committed. The workers have no say what so ever, simply exchange their labor for a minimum wage and are sent back to the country they came from. While the capitalists make all the profits.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/temporary-foreign-worker-program-under-review-again/article14324528/

http://www.justicia4migrantworkers.org/bc/pdf/sawp.pdf

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