Category Archives: Contributor Post

What is an Ideal Privacy Law?

There are a number of laws in Canada that relate to privacy rights and various organizations are responsible for overseeing that there is compliance with said laws. The Privacy Act, covers personal information-handling practices of federal government departments and agencies while the Personal Information Protecting and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) sets ground rules for how private sector organizations may collect, use or disclose information in the course of various commercial activities.

As discussed in class, we face various forms of defense against loss of private information. An example of this comes from simply logging into our MyKwantlen account on the internet. Our grades and such are protected with our very own unique password and student number that only we should know. When checking the mail, we have strayed away from having mailboxes outside our house to having a united mailbox down the street that requires a unique key that will open our box and no one else’s. When we check out email, open our phones, log onto our computers, we are always typing in various passcodes and numbers to ensure that only we can access the information in said equipment.

Privacy law in Canada has evolved into becoming what it is today. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms 1982 highlighted that everyone had the right to life, liberty, and security as well as the right to be free of unreasonable search or seizure. Although this did not directly mention privacy, it is clear that the Canadian government did not want the private matters of Canadians to be infringed upon by those with power. In the early 2000’s various privacy restrictions were created through legislation that prevented the use and disclosure of information by provincial and territorial governments and companies in the private sector.

The Access to Information Act and Freedom of Information Act provided citizens with the right to access information under the control of governmental institutions and made said institutions more accountable to the public and also protected individual privacy by giving the public right of access to records.

An ideal privacy law is one which protects information while making it accessible only to those who are given permission to access it. As with the Access to Information Act and the Freedom of Information Act, we are given the right to information that we are entitled to view. With an ideal privacy law, only those who the information belongs to should be able to denote who accesses the information. In particular cases, the government should be able to have access to information provided it is needed in order to maintain safety in the community. For example, if an act of terror is committed, the government should have access to the information of the offenders in order to help maintain a just society. An ideal privacy law has no limits and no fine print.

As discussed in the Star article, the national Canadian criminal database includes “information on charges, warrants, persons of interest, stolen property, vehicles, criminal records as well as critical public and officer safety information.” Also included are character indicators which police fill out when they feel an individual is capable of committing a violent act. The information collected allows police officers to be aware of individuals that me be a risk to themselves as well as others and assists the police in determining what type of response is needed relative to the individual.

As discussed in the Star article, although this information is stored and kept private, “disclosing it to prospective employers, governments or volunteer organizations undermines the lives of law-abiding citizens.” The information is taken as a precautionary measure; however, the individual whom the information belongs to is never told that this information is kept about them. These precautionary measures are what void Canada’s privacy laws. If those with the power and authority to do so can take and contain our confidential information, how is it fair to say that we are being given a fair right to life, liberty, and security? An ideal privacy would not only apply to the citizens of Canada but the government and authoritative figures of Canada as well. This simple rule is what prevents privacy laws today from being ideal. There is always a special clause that allows one party special rights over another; however, until this clause is removed, there may not be such thing as an IDEAL law.

Cribb, R., Rankin, J., & Bailey, A. (n.d.). 420,000 in police database never convicted: Analysis. The Toronto     Star. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from The Toronto Star:     http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/05/24/420000_in_police_database_never_convict    ed_analysis.html
Haggerty, K. D., & Ericson, R. V. (2006). The New Politics of Surveillance and Visibility. Toronto: University     of Toronto Press.
Larsen, M. (2014, November 25). Law, Society, and Privacy in an Era of Mass Surveillance. Crim 3305 Law     and Society . Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
Richards, N. M. (2013). The Dangers of Surveillance. Harvard Law Review , 26 (934), 934-965.

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The Surveillance Effect: How Data doubles destroy lives

To suggest that even you might show up in the RCMP’s police database might surprise us Canadians.  After all, what could they possibly know? You are more than aware that you have had no convictions in your lifetime and that those people that do most likely deserve it. However, we begin to ask ourselves what do they know about you? Do they have information on you from a past police investigation? Were you questioned about a particular friend or loved one who committed a crime? Or perhaps the police have an unproven allegation against you but they just couldn’t find the evidence and you’ve heard nothing since. Furthermore, maybe your neighbors reported you to the police because they felt you were having suicidal tendencies when you were just having a really bad year. It might be scary to suggest that even though you haven’t committed a crime or an indecent act that these kinds of things you’d have liked to keep private are all available in a national database.

It is now known that more than 420,000 people were listed in the RCMP’s Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database while having no conviction in 2005 (Carlson, 2004). This may strike us as alarming considering this number has most likely grown due to the more modern advances in technology, especially as we approach 2015. A Toronto Star analysis revealed that many of the people listed are for mental health issues. Nearly 2,500 people with no conviction registered for attempted suicide and 2,200 people were registered as having a mental instability with no conviction (Carlson, 24).

      In the case of Diane, whose full name is being withheld to protect her from possible retribution, she is one of more than 200 Canadians who came forward to say that their personal or professional lives have been ruined by police check disclosures. This is unsettling since she has never broken the law and has remained a superb citizen working with vulnerable people as a counselor in Toronto (Carlson, 2004).She went through a rather traumatic experience when she ended her relationship with her spouse five years ago. In retaliation her spouse had scratched his legs, arms and neck and then contacted the police to report that she had assaulted him.  She was arrested and charged based on the physical marks on her ex, however, the charges were withdrawn 11 months later (Carlson, 2004).

After completing her education at George Brown College, Diane was working as a counselor in Toronto in October 2012 when she was instructed to provide a vulnerable sector police check. It was required for those working with vulnerable people as it was a condition of her employment (Carlson, 2004). To her dismay it was founded that her withdrawn assault charge involving her ex-spouse was there. As indicated by Diane she exclaimed, “It took many hours of anguish to finally convince the police department that I was not actually a threat to society and that my employment hinged on the fact that I had a clear record” (Carlson, 2004).  What is clear here is that simply having a negative representation in the system whether it’s a police or national database is that it can have a real live effect on a person even though they may have not actually violated the law. Diane had to put forth her own appeal to keep her job. This can be a traumatic for many of us who rely on our jobs especially when those without much financial security in this day and age need income desperately to survive.

As technology begins to advance we are now becoming more and more aware of situations like that of Diane. Once we are in the system it is likely that we shall remain there as it gives institutions such as the RCMP greater power over us. This power that i’m referring to is that of knowledge. Police forces such as the RCMP in Canada kept note of Diane’s prior withdrawn assault charge for a reason. That information could easily have been used against her and would have given police efforts an easier time to determine how to deal with Diane had another altercation of assault occurred. It easily could have been used as evidence in trial. When we look at Haggerty’s and Ericson’s work, The Surveillant assemblage, they reiterate that we’re witnessing the formation of a new type of body which transcends human characteristics and reduces our flesh to pure information ” (D. Haggerty and R.V. Ericson, 613).  This new type of body that Haggerty and Ericson are referring to is a data double.

Rather than being an accurate portrayal of a real individual, our data double will most likely tell a different story, one that we would not like for many to hear. They contain our greatest secrets, latest gossip, as well as past altercations we have had with the law and many other important realms in society. They are indeed useful as they allow institutions to make discrimination’s among populations, but they come at a great price( D. Haggerty and R.V. Ericson, 614).  When we look at Diane’s data double we know that she had a past assault charge and since she was working as a counselor who served many kinds of vulnerable people it would’ve been unwise to let her continue that position. However, the charge was dropped and false as indicated by Diane, yet it still remained in the system labeling her and restricting her job opportunities. If Diane had not taken action to appeal against her past allegations her job would have been stripped from her. We can see how troublesome this is as not breaking the law can still have its consequences for being in the system.

One of the biggest debates going on throughout our societies today concerns privacy issues. We are becoming more aware that the gradual widening of the use of technology has sparked new controversies especially when it comes to privacy concerns. Function Creep is a useful concept which illustrates that technology and systems such as the RCMP’s database have gone beyond the purpose for which it was originally intended. In the case of the RCMP the information that Diane had been charged with went beyond it’s initial purpose and soon labeled her. Her own data double almost stripped her of her job five years after  the original charge was dropped. It not only caused Diane great stress to prove her case that she was a law abiding citizen but furthermore resulted in the invasion of her privacy.

        When we examine George Orwell’s groundbreaking book, 1984, we wonder if we’re only just a few steps away from becoming a society which prioritizes surveillance over the comfort of its own citizens. In the UK, surveillance has already reached a new level. We begin to wonder if this is this just the beginning and if we are heading into a direction where the idea of Big brother may soon materialize. Criminal lawyers are now arguing cases on disclosure of non-conviction records. In Diane’s case the police were free to do what they wished regarding her withdrawn assault charge since there were no rules and no legislation that restricted the RCMP’s use of it’s records (Carlson, 2004). What is perhaps the scariest thing to consider is that this is only one Database system within Canada. Surveillance efforts will continue to evolve since the threat of global terrorism and 911. I hope that some day our privacy will soon be seen as something more important than global surveillance as i feel it is dehumanizing and unnatural. We are heading into a direction that i would like to think is not beneficial for all societies.

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

Haggerty, K. D., & Ericson, R. V. (2000). The surveillant assemblage. British Journal of Sociology, 51(4), 605-622.

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Data Double: Implications of the Digital Trail

Since personal information is out there because of our daily activities this creates an electronic copy of what we do, what we enjoy, where we work, live, visit etc., which is essentially known as our data double. “Data doubles travel in and out of numerous centers of calculation and serve as markers for access to resources, services, and power” (Haggerty & Ericson, 2000). When referring to the “numerous center’s” as stated by Haggerty & Ericson (2000), this includes things like statistical institutions, police stations, financial institutions, and corporate and military head quarters. Institutions that will gain whether in profit, or control when they have access to any individual’s personal information and data doubles. This allows for it to be easier for information that is personal to be distributed to other places without the individual knowing. Such as how if a person is to log on to facebook, facebook is allowed to use that individuals information and provide it to larger corporations so that marketing is tailored to each individuals preferences. The issue is that many people are not aware that their personal information is being passed along, since many do not read the fine print, nor assume that there is the possibility that their entire digital trail will be in the possession of others. “The growth of surveillance is linked to enhanced possibilities for large-scale storage and processing of personal data as a result of the ‘voluntarily’ given consumer data, or as Davies noted, an ‘illusion of voluntariness.” (Ragnedda, 2011). As stated by Ragnedda, (2011) the 2 most interested institutions that want to collect information would be government authorities, and the second would be private corporations. However, they both have different reasons for wanting “data double”, and collecting that information. For Government agencies it is for controlling citizens, preventing or punishing crimes, while for corporations it to target customers with specific advertising that is personalized for each individual according to their personal data.

When I take a look back at the one-week snapshot of my data double it allows for me to see the potential information that is out there about me after one week of interactions, log in’s, and purchases. In the past week I have signed into my Kwantlen account, as well my Langara student site, I have used my visa, and my debit card in many locations and many different transactions. I have used loyalty cards at 2 different stores, one being Save on foods, and the other being a gas station. In the past week I have also ordered pizza, at pizza hut, which I did so by ordering online. Which I realize after listening to the link in class, that the site has a lot of my information memorized, including what my usual orders are, although this is minor in the scheme of things, it still allows for your past history to be on file which allows for companies to make offers that highlight your past purchases.. Every day things that I have never thought about, now make me wonder what information I am putting out there about my self, such as when I logged on to my Facebook, and Instagram accounts this week, did I inadvertently put out personal information that allowed for me to become a target to certain organizations? I also visited Amazon, where I do have an account, I noticed after that amazon now sends countless emails to my account with suggestions for things that I might prefer, based on past things I have purchased. Some of these various examples in the past week not only have my home address, phone number, history of preferences, but some go even deeper and specify the amount of times I do specific things or what I buy at what times, and much more. All this information can potentially lead to disastrous results if it ever came into the hands of someone with intent to do harm. “Since 2006 the value and vulnerability of personal information has become increasingly apparent with high profile information security breaches.” (ICO, 2010).

The information in my data double for the past week could allow few snapshots of my week, not for major companies, and the Government to survey personal information, but it also takes into account how privacy now days can easily be overlooked when simply clicking a few buttons. On a daily basis the information we put out there, is not only accessible to the company your providing the information to, there are times when that information can be passed along to other agencies as well. Since technology is always at an advancing state, this can lead to public information being passed to others sources much easier, as well as making it possible for people of authority such as the government to keep better track of individuals. Another implication of Data Double, is that there is always the possibility that if another individual were to get a hold of your credit card for example, and purchase something illegal then the purchase of that illegal item may fall on the owner of the credit card. This can also be applied to any other ways data double may be used in identity theft. Another implication could be that if the data double from your past has history of things such as, gambling, or certain addictions it may target you to those major corporations which will in turn make it harder for a person gambling to stay away from temptation.

References

Haggerty, K. D., Ericson, R.V (2000). The Surveillant Assemblage. British Journal of Sociology. 51(4), 605-622.

Information Commissioner’s Office. (2010). Information Commissioner’s Report to Parliament on the State of Surveillance. Retrieved from, https://ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/library/Corporate/Research_and_reports/surveillance_report_for_home_select_committee.ashx

Ranedda, M. (2011). Social Control and Surveillance in the Society of Consumers. Retrieved from, http://www.academia.edu/673071/Social_control_and_surveillance_in_the_society_of_consumers

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State Surveillance: Munk Debate

The Munk Debate on “State Surveillance” was arguing whether the state should be able to turn to large-scale state surveillance of monitoring information from outside threats or was this “state surveillance” a legitimate defence to infringe our freedom as human beings. Parties that were “Pro” state surveillance were arguing that the threats of terrorism continue to happen and we as a country should be prepared. Their main argument is that the state should be able to monitor and access people’s private information for the benefit of the state and to protect the state. On the other hand, the “Con” argues that this is an excuse for the government to infringe our rights.

The Pro side is representing the government. Since the government is not very trusted with the general public, this can be a huge concern for many individuals. The government continues to be deceptive with its citizens and may consider us as “terrorists” until we have proved ourselves as innocent citizens. Organizations such as the National Security Agency (NSA) are for state surveillance. Their main mission is for global monitoring, collection, decoding, translation and analysis of information and data for foreign intelligence and counter intelligence. Not only that but NSA also help protect the U.S. government communications and information systems against dissemination and network warfare. The objective of state surveillance is to monitor and protect its citizens even though they may be infringing privacy rights of many citizens.

The Con states that millions of innocent people who have done nothing wrong or pose no threat continue to be monitored. It was said that millions of people that are guilty of nothing continue to have their communications monitored and surveilled. They also mentioned that there was a document presented by the National Security Agency (NSA) at a conference called “Signals Development Conference”. The document was entitled “New Collection Posture” and it stated collect it all, sniff it all, know it all, process it all, and exploit it all. We are in serious trouble of sacrificing to the state surveillance and exaggerated acts of terrorism and civil liberties that guarantee citizens’ basic freedoms. This is a control mechanism that the state places on its civilians to control their communication and movements.

State surveillance can either be a really good thing or a really bad thing. Since state surveillance is significantly worried about acts of terrorism, this can help prevent acts of terrorism from occurring within our own civilians. This would require its civilians to sacrifice its basic freedoms over to the state. Organizations like the National Security Agency (NSA) sometimes invade the privacy of its own citizens and are making them possible suspects (Munk Debate, 2014). This can also be a bad thing because allowing state surveillance; this can potentially target individuals or groups that are falsely accused of acts of terrorism. Furthermore, this could disrupt the trust civilians have in the government and can even cause chaos within the country. Since civilians already have a hard time trusting government officials, it would not be a great idea if they monitored individuals without reason. The surveillance state already exists and it is a threat to our rights to be free and private. This allows the government with more power over its people and can therefore monitor innocent people without any reason. Using terrorism as a loophole into invading peoples’ privacy without proof shows how much power government officials really have and how much power citizen’s lack. An argument made by the Con stated that Edward Snodwen for many months, had downloaded sensitive documents and the NSA had no idea that this was happening. The NSA still does not know what Edward Snodwen had taken and how much he had taken (Munk Debate, 2014). This point illustrates how the government can abuse its power and cannot be trusted when it comes to monitoring our documents, communication, and even movements.

In conclusion, government officials have proven in history and many incidents today that they cannot be trusted. By invading and targeting innocent people without any proof or reason shows how the government abuses its power and treats its civilians. Privacy is a big issue for many people. Being watched and monitored for no reason infringes on human freedoms and shows how little power civilians really have and how much control the government has over its people.

Larsen, M. (2014, November 25). Law, Society, and Privacy in an Era of Mass Surveillance. Crim 3305 Law     and Society . Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

CBC. (2014, May 8). State Surveillance: The Munk Debate. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from CBC.ca:     http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2014/05/08/state-surveillance-the-munk-debate/

Munk Debate. (2014, May). State Surveillance: Munk Debate.

http://www.munkdebates.com/debates/state-surveillance

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The Consequences of Mass-surveillance in the digital age

This post was written by Crim3305student.

The Munk Debate involves both proponents and critics of NSA and CSEC (CBC, 2014). Both sides debate over the use of mass surveillance and data collection of civilians in secret. Proponents of state surveillance claim that national security interests are paramount in response to an external threat. The Proponents of state surveillance include Michael Hayden and Alan Dershowitz. The proponents in the debate contend that state surveillance is a justifiable form of protection against threats of national security. Opponents of state surveillance contend that the infringement of privacy interests without judicial oversight is unjustifiable. Opponents of unregulated state surveillance in the Munk Debate are Alexis Ohanian and Glenn Greenwald.

Proponents of state surveillance argue that the bulk collection of data is essential. The nature of electronic communications warrants its collection and observation on a total scale. E-mail communications between terrorists and criminals are indistinguishable from e-mails of regular citizens. CSEC and the NSA have little choice but to collect and monitor all electronic communications to expose potential threats to state security. The nature of electronic communications allows foreign terrorists to transmit information to potential terrorists inside North America. Proponents of mass surveillance without oversight, claim that foreign threats to national security exist. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the threat of terrorism against North American countries has shifted. The threats of the Cold War are equivalent to current religious extremists and criminal organizations.

Proponents of the Five Eyes Program claim it is unfair to criticize mass-surveillance. Critics of mass-surveillance fail to acknowledge the entire situation stemming from the terrorist attacks of 2001. Criticizing the use of mass surveillance now; neglects that terrorists abroad transmitted electronic communications to terrorists in North America. The terrorists sent messages to each other prior to the World Trade Centre attacks. The NSA global telecommunications grid screens all e-mails from terrorists and criminals. Terrorists that mean to do North America harm do not deserve constitutional protection.

Surveillance that is adequately balanced with privacy rights can help to maintain security and liberty. The use of surveillance must be justified and must outweigh privacy rights. There is a distinction between types of surveillance that must be acknowledged. There are degrees of surveillance that vary depending on the context of the situation.  A balance of restraint and flexibility is needed when utilizing surveillance. Surveillance, when focused on criminal organizations and terrorists is justified to ensure the security of the state. Polarized opponents of surveillance contend that electronic information is utilized by the state for nefarious purposes. The state utilizes electronic surveillance for preventative purposes concerning terrorism. Mass-surveillance is necessary in acquiring information that prevents acts of terrorism.

Privacy interests are currently “at odds” (CBC, 2014) with the surveillance state as it exists. The surveillance state has expanded due to the rapid advancement of technology in the last 50 years. Advocates of privacy rights contend that privacy is a fundamental right that is inherent in North American society. The privacy advocates in The Munk Debate claim that the use of indiscriminate mass surveillance has 3 hindrances. Privacy advocates claim that mass surveillance is inefficient in that it hinders technological progress, it is harmful to the economy, and counterproductive in addressing threats to national security.

Mass-surveillance creates distrust amongst the global community and diverts the “global user base” (CBC, 2014) away from North American technological services. Internet users will use servers outside of North America that maintain a veneer of privacy. Economic security that helps to provide “national security” (CBC, 2014) has been hindered by mass-surveillance. Countries threatened by North American surveillance may insulate themselves from the internet. Technological progress that results from global interconnectedness through the internet has been threatened by The Five Eyes Program.

Michael Hayden describes how countries like Germany and Brazil may detach their interconnectedness from the World Wide Web (CBC, 2014). The use of mass-surveillance undermines national security because it fails to secure technological exploits. Threats to national security can utilize the same weaknesses in technology that the state utilizes to surveil citizens. Technological defects should be fixed to prevent further exploitation and criminal activity. Mass-surveillance destabilizes the security of global interconnectedness by allowing technological flaws to endure. The NSA and CSEC receive massive budgets that could be utilized to prevent further criminal activity on the internet. The use of mass surveillance is counterproductive to security, democracy, and the economy.

Unfortunately, state surveillance has remained secretive in its practices. The NSA is a non-transparent organization with no judicial over sight. The use of mass-surveillance has not been limited to international countries. The Five Eyes Program collects electronic communications of entire populations that have committed no criminal offence. State organizations that gather information in secret operate under the scapegoat of terrorism and national security. North American populations have been the victims of extensive mass-surveillance and data collection. Indiscriminate data collection results in an overabundance of information to sift through. The Five Eyes program is collecting communications from entire populations instead of communications relating to specific threats. Legitimate democratic governments should be incapable of indiscriminately infringing upon constitutional rights of privacy.

I contend that state authorities need judicial oversight to prevent fishing for evidence.  Reasonable and probable grounds are needed to warrant the electronic surveillance of any individual. Oversight is needed to regulate state discretion regarding privacy interests. The scapegoat of terrorism and national security fails to justify the unwarranted mass-surveillance of civilians. Vague and ambiguous ideals that appeal to patriotism are inadequate in justifying indiscriminate state surveillance. Many forms of surveillance exist in North America, and the Snowden leaks exposed surveillance on a macro scale.

Richards describes how secret and total surveillance by the state should be viewed as illegitimate and with an innate potential for abuse (Richards, 2013, pp. 935-936). Glenn Greenwald stated during the Munk debate that the NSA intended to “collect it all, sniff it all, know it all, process it all, and exploit it all” (CBC, 2014). While the NSA’s purpose may not be “Orwellian” (Richards, 2013, p. 953) in nature, mass-surveillance creates a power dynamic. The watchers and those being watched are involved in a hierarchal relationship. The use of mass-surveillance, results in power relationships involving “blackmail, discrimination, and persuasion” (Richards, 2013, p. 953). The state in the past has attempted to black mail dissidents using wire taps. The FBI utilized wire taps in an attempt to discredit “Dr. Martin Luther King” (Richards, 2013, p. 953).

It is critical to distinguish between the types of surveillance and their purposes; “surveillance involves the collection and analysis of information about populations in order to govern their activities … surveillance against terrorism is only one use of monitoring systems” (Haggerty & Ericson, 2006, p. 3). The issue of police databases in Ontario collecting information regarding people never being convicted of crimes is an alternative example to the NSA controversy. Though, the use of indiscriminate data collection by the RCMP proved to be invasive and harmful (Cribb, Rankin, & Bailey). An unintended consequence of data collection involved police records preventing people from opportunities. The RCMP case in Ontario exposed how different levels of government and private interests collect data. Often the collection of data can vary in purpose, while The Five Eyes collects data for counter terrorism purposes; the RCMP collects data for record keeping and reference.

The use of data collection involves “overlapping and entangled assemblage of government and corporate watchers” (Richards, 2013, p. 936). “Surveillance assemblages” (Larsen, 2014) lack hierarchies, that resemble a single dominant entity. Instead, Surveillance in modern times involves multiple parties with different agendas that attempt to understand and influence human behavior. Surveillance assemblages vary in purpose; for example corporate surveillance involving rewards cards in stores observe purchasing patterns. Surveillance assemblages result in multiple parties watching each other for various purposes. According to Haggerty and Ericson, surveillance assemblages can embody hegemonic ideals. Institutions can “integrate, combine, and coordinate various systems and components” (Haggerty & Ericson, 2006, p. 5). Hegemonic ideals are reflected in the connection and accumulation of data from separate organizations by a governing institution. Data collected by separate institutions has little potential for harm; although data combined from multiple institutions gives cause for concern.
The formation of a “data double” (Haggerty & Ericson, 2006, p. 4) from various external sources can potentially infringe upon privacy rights. The RCMP`s collection of data regarding circumstances in police reports had unintended consequences for those mentioned. The RCMP was forming partial aspects of people’s data doubles. The information collected by the RCMP resulted in; “these non-conviction record releases violate my constitutional rights to be heard, to defend myself against these false records” (Cribb, Rankin, & Bailey, p. 5). The RCMP`s data collection resulted in innocent citizens being discriminated against. The example of the RCMP`s “Canadian Police Information Centre database” (Cribb, Rankin, & Bailey, p. 1) exposes how a single organization that collects data on citizens can have harmful consequences.

Works Cited
CBC. (2014, May 8). State Surveillance: The Munk Debate. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from CBC.ca:     http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2014/05/08/state-surveillance-the-munk-debate/
Cribb, R., Rankin, J., & Bailey, A. (n.d.). 420,000 in police database never convicted: Analysis. The Toronto     Star. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from The Toronto Star:     http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/05/24/420000_in_police_database_never_convict    ed_analysis.html
Haggerty, K. D., & Ericson, R. V. (2006). The New Politics of Surveillance and Visibility. Toronto: University     of Toronto Press.
Larsen, M. (2014, November 25). Law, Society, and Privacy in an Era of Mass Surveillance. Crim 3305 Law     and Society . Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
Richards, N. M. (2013). The Dangers of Surveillance. Harvard Law Review , 26 (934), 934-965.

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The Usage of Data Creep and Data Doubles in Police Databases

In Canada, 420,000 individuals who have never been convicted of a crime have their names and information in police databases (Carlson, 2014). Some of these individuals are listed for mental health reasons, such as attempted suicide, violence, or mental instability, while others are in the database due to being charged with a crime, but never convicted (Carlson, 2014). These police databases are routinely searched when background checks are performed on individuals, such as when applying for work, or sometimes when crossing the border to the US (Carlson, 2014). Unfortunately, there are no rules and legislation as to what information and when the police can release this information, and this has made it difficult for some individuals to attain employment (Carlson, 2014). An investigation by the Toronto star shows the difficulties of a withdrawn charge on a subsequent job search – Diane was wrongly accused of assault by her ex-spouse and almost lost her job as a counsellor when a background check was performed and the withdrawn assault charge was revealed to her workplace (Carlson, 2014). Luckily, after months of appeals, the police force agreed to remove the charge off the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) Database. However, most individuals are not successful at having this information removed from the database, and meanwhile, individuals convicted with a crime have a clear pardon legislation that allows them to have their conviction record expunged (Carlson, 2014). criminologists argue that it’s not beneficial to preserve non-conviction records, as the CPIC database’s objective is to keep information about individual’s criminal history, which one can have only if they were convicted of a criminal charge, but not if just charged with a crime. Furthermore, these may violate the constitutional rights of an individual to defend against false records and allegations against them (Carlson, 2014).

According to Haggerty and Ericson (2000), surveillance technologies used to be discrete and not linked with one another, however, we now have what the authors call ‘surveillant assemblage’. These surveillant assemblages is a combination of various surveillance techniques that break down the individual into discrete information flows, which are then reassembled into ‘data doubles’, by classification criteria that was established by the institutions that are capturing the data (Haggerty & Ericson, 2006). Each individual has a data double, which is a profile of their digital footmarks left in today’s age of electronic information. These data doubles are pure information, and they can be used by the government and corporations in order to differentiate between categories of individuals for marketing and institutional agenda purposes (Haggerty & Ericson, 2000). Furthermore, the government can and has profited from selling data found in official records, and corporations can exchange services for the personal information of those using the services.

Another worrisome feature of today’s surveillance techniques includes ‘function creep’, a process where laws and information gathering procedures that have been promoted and justified for a particular application are eventually being used for purposes that these were not initially designed for (Haggerty & Ericson, 2006). For example, black boxes in cars were originally used for airbag deployment during an accident, but have since been used in criminal investigations because these boxes record the speed of the car and whether a seatbelt was worn. Function creep is especially problematic because it is often used in an ad hoc way, where new monitoring possibilities can be found in a system that was not originally utilized for that particular manner, and most proponents of a new surveillance system cannot predict in advance how that system might be used in the future. Often, these function creep changes are done by bureaucratic reforms that are not made available to the public (Haggerty & Ericson, 2006).

When analyzing the Toronto Star investigation, we can see that although the police argues that CPIC notations are useful for officer and public safety when responding to a call, it is possible the police is keeping track of these records for the purposes of data doubles. For example, the police may want to categorize people who are mentally unstable or violent but have not been charged or convicted of a crime. Each individual’s data double could be used for the purposes of surveillance of protests, predicting public opinion regarding a particular public interest issue, knowing who to monitor when there is an expected protest or civil disobedience, etc. Furthermore, we can predict that this database may be used for different purposes in the future by the usage of data creeping. Data creeping occurs when a system designed for a particular function is used for more than it was originally mandated to do (Haggerty & Ericson, 2006). For example, like when the RCMP released information to Kinder Morgan regarding individuals protesting the pipeline. Other uses could include using information to refuse social or government services to individuals, for example, on the basis that violent or unstable individuals should not get access to firearms, social welfare, or other services and incentives. The police can also profit from selling this information to marketers – maybe mentally unstable individuals might be interested in pharmaceutical interventions to help with their instability, or violent individuals could be interested in martial arts courses. This information can further be used to substantiate a claim that someone has a history of being mentally unstable or violent when charged with a crime in the future. Overall, knowledge is power, and the police holds onto this knowledge as one day it may be used to have power over someone, utilizing their own discretion (or lack thereof) in making these disclosures about individuals.

References

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

Haggerty, K. D., & Ericson, R. V. (2000). The surveillant assemblage. British Journal of Sociology, 51(4), 605-622.

Haggerty, K. D., & Ericson, R. V. (2006). The new politics of surveillance and visibility. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

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The Concepts of ‘Data Double’ and ‘Function Creep’ Applied to the Toronto Star Investigation

Recently, it has been discovered by a Toronto Star analysis, that an astounding number of individuals without any charges or convictions are listed on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre) database. Many of those who are on this list have been affected in negative ways because of it. Some of these negative experiences and implications include, being denied a volunteer position within an organization because that one’s name is found to be contained within the CPIC data, an employer finding out that a person’s criminal record is not clean and choosing not to hire him/her as a measure of caution, or not being able to cross the border to the US because one has been labeled as having a , ‘mental instability’ or having made a ‘suicide attempt,’ (The Star, 2014) all of which are things that should not be getting in the way of a person trying to: travel, obtain employment, or give back to their community through volunteer work. Ontario’s privacy commissioner, Ann Cavoukian even went so far as to say that it ‘ruins lives’ (The Star, 2014).

The RCMP’s reasoning behind collecting and recording this information on individuals, regardless of whether or not they have been charged and/or convicted are all follows: it is done for the safety of the person themselves, the safety of the general public and for the safety of police officers, in the case that they ever come in contact with those people. Sgt. Greg Cox, an RCMP spokesperson stated, ‘The information allows police services to be aware of individuals that may be a danger to themselves or others and assists police in determining appropriate responses or actions to take relative to that individual’ (The Star, 2014).

The question remains, if these individuals have not ever been charged or convicted of an offence, then why are their names contained within the CPIC data? These include people who have: had mental health issues or have threatened or attempted to commit suicide in the past. Even those who have had someone call the police to complain about them, where no charge or conviction resulted, are included (Toronto Star, 2014). Every interaction involving the police is recorded and stored.

CPIC is clearly a form of surveillance, defined by Haggerty and Ericson as, the ‘collection and analysis of information about populations in order to govern their activities’ (Haggerty & Ericson, 2006, p. 3). It is the amalgamation of different technologies of surveillance to create a master source about the many details in an individual’s life. I think Haggerty and Ericson would consider CPIC to be a form of “computerized ‘datavalence'” (as cited in Haggerty and Ericson, 2006, p. 4), in which large amounts of information are being processed and evaluated electronically in order to adhere to the idea of risk management and safety in this particular case.

The concepts of ‘function creep’ and ‘data double’ can help make sense of what appears to be a serious issue for many citizens of the public surrounding the contents of CPIC data. The term ‘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.” (dictionary.com) which is exactly what seems to have happened with the RCMP’s CPIC database. The online CPIC data system was originally created in 1972 for the purposes of recording the personal information of those who had either been charged or convicted of a crime. Those who had been charged would have the charge removed after 5 years, and those who had been convicted would have that information absolved after a certain period of time, depending on the nature of the case (The Star, 2008). The database was intended to be used solely for those reasons, however these original guidelines of are not being adhered to. The RCMP has slowly extended beyond this scope and has started to record data that should not have been recorded in the first place. In addition to that, information about individuals (who don’t have charges/convictions) is not being expunged after a certain amount of time. Anne, a woman who had a bad experience with CPIC data coming back to haunt her, made a powerful statement when she said, ‘The convicted are protected. But these non-conviction record releases definitely violate my constitutional rights to be heard, to defend myself against these false records (The Star, 2014).

This has caused an uproar in many individuals who are having a tough time being accepted into volunteer organizations, getting jobs and even crossing the border without issues arising in regards to their name popping up in CPIC data even though they have not committed a crime but are simply in the database for the sake of ‘surveillance,’ which Haggerty and Ericson define as, ‘the collection and analysis of information about populations in order to govern their activities’ (Haggerty & Ericson, 2006). The CPIC database helps to create what is termed as, a ‘data double,’ a compilation of information about a person from various sources which are normally separate from one another, but once pieced together, form a digital version of the self which is sent to a central location and then dispersed amongst technologies (i.e. computers) in a way that serves the purposes of an institution (Haggerty & Ericson, 2006). In the case of the CPIC database, the primary purpose is said to be that of safety. The problem with this is that an individual’s entire character is being judged and based on a piece of information stored within the database which is causing individuals to experience major inconveniences and frustrations with the system, as has been demonstrated in the results of the Toronto Star analysis.

References:
http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/05/24/420000_in_police_database_never_convicted_analysis.html#
http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/crime/2008/07/19/how_cpic_works.html
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/function+creep
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.

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