Canada debates controversial bill on Internet surveillance

Canada is currently debating the adoption of a new Internet surveillance bill. As stated on the website of Canadian Public Safety, the new bill would oblige telecommunications service providers to “implement and maintain systems capable of lawfully intercepting communications in order to support the police and [Canadian Security Intelligence Service] CSIS when needed” and to give access to police, CSIS and Competition Bureau officials to Internet users information without warrant in certain cases.

The C-30 was introduced in February 2012 by the Canadian Government as An Act to enact the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act and to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts. A principal driver behind the bill is preparing Canada to ratify the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime, adopted in Budapest the 23 November 2001. Indeed, this convention entered into force July 1st, 2004; Canada has signed but not ratified this Convention; consequently, this Convention has not entered into force for Canada. The bill is controversial in Canada because it would allow authorities to access Internet users’ information without warrant under exceptional circumstances (Section 17), notably if “the information requested is immediately necessary to prevent an unlawful act that would cause serious harm to any person or to property”. On November 27, 2012, the  National Post revealed that the Canadian Government is under international pressure to pass this bill in order to be able to ratify the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime.

This controversy has been widely debated among concerned Canadians. Indeed, Canada’s Information and Privacy Commissioners have expressed their concerns about the bill, including Ann Cavoukian, the Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner in the National Post. In short, they are asking for an amendment of the bill in order to balance security and privacy. At the same time however members of law enforcement authorities  have supported the bill based on their belief it is in the interest of public safety. Jim Chu Chief Constable at the Vancouver Police Department has written of his support in the Vancouver Sun, as have the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

SURVEILLE guest at Centre of Excellence in Foundations of European Law and Polity, Helsinki

On Thursday, November 15th, SURVEILLE was a guest of the Centre of Excellence in Foundations of European Law and Polity, Helsinki, at the workshop “On the End of Freedom, Law, Surveillance and Technology in Times of Global Insecurity”, organized by Jens Kremer(PhD candidate at University of Helsinki & CoE Foundations). The seminar “addressed open legal conflicts in relation to surveillance and security”, and focused on “how the employment of these technologies and legal safeguards would shape the scope of freedom and control for future generations”. Guests discussed different technologies and challenged both normative assumptions and the existing legal framework.

Session 1 featured the Finnish Data Protection Authority, Reijo Aarnio, who addressed the issue of video surveillance in Finland, as well as journalist Hanna Nikkanen, who presented the role of private companies in surveillance-related personal data collection and processing, who called for greater cooperation between journalism and academia.

In session two, EUI SURVEILLE team member Mathias Vermeulen (and PhD candidate at Vrije Universiteit Brussels) gave his critical view on smart CCTV and GPS, focusing in particular on the recent case of Jones in the US. The host of the workshop, Jens Kremer, concluded the morning session with a speech on urban surveillance in the US (Chicago) and the EU (London). The afternoon session featured EUI team member Maria Grazia Porcedda (and PhD candidate at the EUI), who challenged the security vs. privacy approach from the perspective of cyber-security and cyber-crime, and focused in particular on deep-packet inspection in the EU. Subsequently, EUI SURVEILLE team member Tuomas Ojanen (and professor of Constitutional law at University of Helsinki) explained how the rights to privacy and data protection offer legal limitations to the (lawful) implementation of surveillance. Finally, Keegan Elmer (University of Helsinki & The Finnish Institute of International Affairs) gave a speech on micro-blogging in China, explaining how media control and civil unrest interact with each other, and what is the role of Internet Service Providers in China.

Successful First Annual Forum in Brussels – Sept 24th 2012

On the 24th of September SURVEILLE’s First Annual Forum for decision makers took Place in Brussels, gathering a crowd of representatives from the European Commission, the European Parliament, law enforcement agencies, local authorities, academics, and other interested parties. Professor Martin Scheinin of the EUI introduced the project and its goals during the first panel. In commenting upon his presentation, member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake stressed the need for more research on how to identify mass surveillance tools as opposed to tools that can be only used for targeted surveillance. Schaake stressed the need for a global perspective as well, as many EU or US made technologies subsequently end up being (ab)used by other governments in third countries. Dr. Francesca Galli and Céline Cocq presented one of SURVEILLE’s first draft deliverables, entitled ‘The use of surveillance technologies in the prevention and investigation of serious offences.” They received comments from Professor Simon Chesterman and Mr. Olivey Luyck, Head of Unit at the European Commission. The policy debate of this forum focused on the realignment of law enforcement and intelligence services’ use of surveillance technologies for the prevention and investigation of serious crimes. One speaker asserted that the building up the criminal intelligence procedure is nowadays almost as important as search and seizure, but this isn’t reflected yet in criminal codes. Another speaker stated that it would be naïve to think that the use of every new technology could fit immediately in our traditional human rights paradigm. This includes a practice of trial and error, and eventually a balance is found. In his closing keynote speech Gilles De Kerchove, the EU’s Anti-Terrorism Coordinator, stressed how the expansion of the definition of terrorism had a profound effect on the realignment of law enforcement and intelligence services. Both actors should be able to gather as much data as possible in his view, on the condition that data protection concerns, including privacy by design, are duly taken into account.

10 cities and regions to provide SURVEILLE with technology users' input

Ten European cities and regions will provide the SURVEILLE project with the perspective of technology users and political decision makers As part of its contribution to the “SURVEILLE” project, the European Forum for Urban Security has set up a working group of ten experienced European local and regional authorities. It is made of the cities of Brno (Czech Republic) and Brussels (Belgium), the Emilia Romagna Region (Italy) and the Autonomous Region of Catalonia (Spain), the cities of Lisbon (Portugal), Paris (France), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Sosnowiec (Poland), Saint-Herblain (France) and Soisy-sous-Montmorency (France). Also the cities of Munich (Germany) and Belfast have agreed to contribute to its work. Many of the cities and regions have already been involved in the Forum’s initiative for a responsible and democratic use of CCTV and subscribed to the ethical Charter it had developed. The role of the working group is to accompany the FP7 research project on ethics and efficiency of surveillance technologies SURVEILLE and thereby also to continue and develop the work of the European Forum in this field. Members will benefit from state of the art knowledge and research and provide the researchers and technology developers an “end-user perspective”. The perspective of local and regional authorities is at the same time technical, as they use technologies in real life conditions, but also political, as it is the local elected official that needs to make trade-offs and justify choices for or against certain tools. Therefore, in the tradition of the European Forum, also this working group brings together technical experts as well as political decision makers, as the former senator and mayor of Saint-Herblain, France, Charles Gautier, who is also the president of the French Forum for Urban Security, the mayor of Soisy-sous-Montmorency Luc Strehaiano, who is also charing the French National Commission on Video Surveillance, the deputy mayor of Paris, Miriam El Khomri, the deputy mayor of Lisbon, Manuel Da Silva Brito or the deputy mayor of Sosnowiec, Agniezka Cezechowska-Kopec. Members will come together to their first official meeting 17th October 2012 in Paris. On their agenda will be analyses of the use of security technologies, an evaluation of their usefulness as well as a political positioning of the European Forum on the use of these technologies: The upcoming international conference “Security, Democracy and Cities: The Future of Prevention” will lead to the adaption of a new manifest of European cities on urban security, which will of course have to address the issues of security technologies. The partners of the SURVEILLE research project will be part of the conference and provide local and regional authorities valuable insights.

SURVEILLE on the agenda for Efus members

Ethics and the efficiency of surveillance technologies are important issues for the 300 local and regional authorities of the European Forum for Urban Security (Efus), which in 2010 launched its initiative for the responsible and democratic use of CCTV in European cities. The SURVEILLE project is an important vector for local and regional authorities for obtaining firsthand information from research and technology developers and for contributing their experience and perspective to the knowledge base on surveillance technologies and the development of a normative framework for their use. Local authorities are end-users of surveillance technologies and, importantly, are directly accountable to their voters for the choices for or against the use of certain technologies in a given context. Locally-elected officials debate the social issues of ethics and efficiency of surveillance technologies with the citizens of their towns and cities. The SURVEILLE project is the new focal point for the forum’s work on these issues. This has led to a new working group on technologies within the European Forum that is currently being set up as a platform to provide input from end-users and local decision makers. Amongst its members will be the president of the French Forum for Urban Security, the former Senator and current Mayor of Saint-Herblain (France), Charles Gautier, representatives of the Emilia Romagna Region (Italy), the autonomous region of Catalunya (Spain), and the cities of Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Brno (Czech Republic). Several other cities have announced their interest in contributing to the working group and the SURVEILLE project. Technologies will also have a prominent place at the Forum’s international conference on the future of prevention “Security, democracy and cities: the future of prevention”, 12th-14th December 2012, Aubervilliers & Saint-Denis (in Paris, France). One of the four plenary sessions will be dedicated to ‘risks, technologies and prevention’. Moreover, a separate session will focus on SURVEILLE and the issue of ethics and surveillance technologies. In line with the Naples (2001) and Zaragoza (2006) manifestos, the conference will lead to a new European cities manifesto on security and democracy, which will also present the European Forum’s position on the issue of surveillance and security technologies. A first step towards the new manifesto was taken at the Efus General Assembly, which took place June 7th 2012 in Brussels, where members of the Forum discussed the outline of the plenary session on technologies. The working group will come together before the end of the summer for its first work meeting to continue the discussion on the manifesto and to work on the local authorities end-users contribution to the SURVEILLE project, before participating in the SURVEILLE Annual Forum for Decision-makers on September 24th.