Aussie government failed to conduct privacy impact assessments on security measures

An independent report has found that Australia’s federal government has failed to perform adequate privacy impact assessments on nearly 90 percent of the national security measures it has passed over the past 14 years, according to independent research, according to a report by Australian television program Lateline. Privacy impact assessments (PIAs) are supposed to be conducted with public consultation and community debate whenever new intrusive laws or practices are proposed, to ensure the government does not collect more data than

Suspicious government to fingerprint employees, spy on citizens

As the Harper government nears nine years in power, it continues to demonstrate that it has no trust for its employees and Canadian citizens in general. This week, Canada’s Treasury Board Secretariat, which is responsible for the federal civil service, confirmed that the government’s new standard on security screening, that came into effect last October, includes fingerprinting employees, along with mandatory credit checks. As of 2014, it was estimated that there were 257,138 federal civil servants in Canada. Public sector

Canadian anti-terror agencies, law requires oversight

Earlier this year, new disclosures from U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden unveiled that Canada’s electronic spy agency, the Communications Security Establishment, tracks millions of Internet downloads daily. According to Canada’s public broadcaster, the surveillance agency sifts through millions of videos and documents downloaded online every day by people around the world under a program entitled “Levitation”. According to the disclosure, the Levitation program monitors downloads in several countries across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and North America. The agency, which

U.S. spying on ordinary Internet users, Germany

According to a recent report published in the Washington Post, the U.S. intelligence community targets far more ordinary Internet users, both American and foreign, than intended surveillance targets. In the quest to monitor those deemed a threat to the United States, communications intercepted by the National Security Agency (NSA) contain a tremendous amount of data which is not material to security investigations. As a result, the Post claims that “many files, described as useless by security analysts but nonetheless retained,

NSA collects facial recognition quality images from intercepted communications: report

The NSA has been harvesting images from communications it intercepts for facial recognition processing. This according to a report in the New York Times. According to the report, quoting top-secret documents, the NSA intercepts millions of images per day, including more than 50,000 facial recognition quality images. The NSA, which once only focused on written and oral communications, “now considers facial images, fingerprints just as important to its mission of tracking suspected terrorist and other intelligence targets, the documents show.”

Canadian academics, privacy groups issue statement against mass spying

In Canada this week, a number of academics have become signatories to a statement calling upon governments to reign in mass surveillance in Canada. Known as the Ottawa Statement, the document acknowledges that Canada is now “entering an age of Big Data and ubiquitous surveillance” and that “governments and private corporations routinely collect and sort massive amounts of personal data for multiple reasons from national security to marketing”. Over 35 leading scholars and 19 organizations have signed on in support.The

U.S. continues to spy on ordinary citizens

During a recent trip to Europe, President Obama said that the U.S. intelligence community was not snooping on “ordinary citizens,” despite many indications to the contrary. “I am confident that everybody in our intelligence agencies operates with the best of intentions and is not snooping into the privacy of ordinary Dutch, German, French or American citizens,” Obama told reporters during a multilateral summit in The Hague. Obama said that due to spy revelations made by the former, renegade intelligence contractor

Obama’s new measures won’t limit government spying

Despite President Obama directing his administration to reform U.S. surveillance programs in order to make the intelligence community more transparent, spying will continue unabated. While his new guidance to the U.S. intelligence community declares that the United States must not collect intelligence “for the purpose of suppressing or burdening criticism or dissent, or for disadvantaging persons based on their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion”, the continued widespread electronic collection of intelligence will go on. Obama’s administration is only

NSA illegally collected data with wide surveillance reach

This week, the U.S. Government officially released declassified documents that show that the National Security Agency was illegally collecting a broad range of domestic electronic communications on Americans. NSA’s unlawful practices, which ended in 2011, entailed the collection of thousands of e-mails of American citizens, despite limits against such practices established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The NSA only changed its collection practices after a secret court that oversees government surveillance, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, ruled that the NSA’s

U.S. government illegally spying, audit confirms

A top secret internal audit conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA) found the agency broke its own privacy rules and exceeded its legal authority thousands of times by spying on U.S. citizens illegally since it was given expanded powers in 2008, according to a recent report in the Washington Post. The audit found that most of the privacy breaches involved unauthorized surveillance of U.S. citizens and foreign intelligence targets.  The newspaper claimed the audit found that most breaches ranged from