THE BLOG

The Government's Spying, But No One's Talking

10/29/2013 05:20 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

It's been just a week since OpenMedia.ca and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) announced a constitutional challenge to stop illegal government spying against law-abiding Canadians -- and already the response from Canadians has been remarkable.

In just seven days, thousands of you from across the country have pledged to stand with the brave lawyers at the BCCLA to "uphold the constitutional right of all Canadian residents to be free from unlawful spying and intrusion by government entities."

Word of the court challenge is spreading fast, helped along by extensive coverage in national and local media outlets, including on CBC News, the Globe and Mail, and Daily Xtra.

The news also made a big splash internationally, with our own Steve Anderson being interviewed on popular cable news channel Russia Today and with articles about the case appearing on major U.S. websites including GigaOM, the Daily Dot, and the New York Times. Thanks to all of you who stood with us and helped us achieve this level of coverage.

Already we're starting to have an impact. Late last week, the Senate held a lively debate about the activities of government spy agency CSEC, with many senators pressuring the government for greater transparency and answers about CSEC's activities -- not least the way that their spying on Brazil has undermined Canada's relationship with a hugely important Latin American ally.

Encouragingly, Canada's largest national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, has joined Canadians in seeking transparency about secret CSEC spying. In a hard-hitting editorial the paper described the challenge as "a welcome opportunity," that "could end up prying open a few of the mysteries of CSEC, and putting firmer limits on its ability to infringe your privacy."

Tellingly, the Globe's editorial team went on to point out that:

"CSEC is also not supposed to engage in surveillance of Canadians except when it gets a special authorization to do so. Is that how it works in practice? The Edward Snowden revelations suggest widespread abuse of the spirit of the law by U.S. intelligence agencies. What's the story here? Who is overseeing the government's gatherers of secrets, and who is protecting us from them?"

Just one week after we joined with our partners in the BCCLA to announce the case, it looks like we've started quite the debate. A growing consensus is now building from coast to coast to coast that we need much greater accountability, transparency, and oversight of CSEC's expensive spying activities. You know you're making progress when the largest national newspaper in the country speaks out on your side.

I know our small, dedicated team here at OpenMedia.ca have been hugely encouraged by the response we've received from people right across Canada. We're all about amplifying your voices and we know from past experience that when Canadians speak up in large numbers, decision-makers are forced to take notice. Together we're building consensus, along with the largest privacy coalition in Canadian history, that we need the government to come clean about CSEC's spying activities now. That's why it's so important to keep up the pressure -- here's how you can help:

  • Pledge to stand with the BCCLA and encourage your friends and family to do likewise at: https://OpenMedia.ca/csec
  • If you are on Facebook, click here to post the petition to your Wall »
  • If you have a Twitter account, click here to spread the word »
  • Let's keep speaking up, Canada!