back to article Canada asks citizens: How would you like us to spy on you?

The Canadian government is asking citizens to weigh in on its plans for digital surveillance programs. A government-hosted page called Investigative Capabilities in a Digital World seeks input from residents on matters such as intercepting communications, forcing data decryption, and requiring service providers in Canada to …

  1. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

    Sure, they ask you, but entry is always gained via Annoying Spying Sphincter technology.

  2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "...using covert tactics such as airport hotspots..."

    In my experience, if they're free and open then they simply do not work. I'm referring to those in Canadian airports. Rubbish. Waste of time even trying.

    Any airport in any third world country, there will be dozens. Every 'chicken on a stick' food outlet will have one. All wide open and working perfectly. Not even a disclaimer and agreement page.

    So I'm not sure how far CSIS will get offering free hotspots in (Canadian) airports. If they were functional, it would be very suspicious.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "...using covert tactics such as airport hotspots..."

      In my experience, if they're free and open then they simply do not work. I'm referring to those in Canadian airports. Rubbish. Waste of time even trying.

      And they're never quite free either.

  3. Youngone Silver badge

    Straw Man

    "We treasure our privacy, and rightly so, but we also expect law enforcement and national security investigators to be as effective in keeping us safe and secure in the digital world as they are in the physical world."

    You might expect that but I don't.

    In fact I don't expect law enforcement or national security investigators to even understand online security, and judging by their attitude to encryption I'm right.

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Straw Man

      Yes, water down/backdoor/Magic Emergency Government Access Freedom Antiterrorism Portal (MEGAFAP) encryption, and you will make everyone less secure, but try to convince the guys who love a good MEGAFAP of that.

    2. tfewster Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Straw Man

      Their straw man immediately self-combusts. If cops want to search my house, they must* demonstrate probable cause to get a judge to sign a warrant. They don't get to install cameras in every house and tape everything everyone do just in case someone breaks the law there at some future date.

      So if cops want to read my email, they should demonstrate probable cause and get a damn warrant for the specific circumstances.

      * May not apply in all countries

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Straw Man

        @tfewster,

        They don't get to install cameras in every house and tape everything everyone do just in case someone breaks the law there at some future date.

        The local legal framework does have a bearing on the matter.

        In the UK, if you arrest someone carrying a gun, they've almost certainly broken the law and it's then a simple matter of investigating their motive. Same as anything else capable of going 'bang' in a big way (explosives, too any gas cylinders, too much fertiliser, etc), or even large knives. This gives local law enforcement the option of intruding as much as they like after arresting someone before they've carried out an attack. [Though of course it seems they're also pretty keen digital surveillance anyway to find people to arrest in the first place]. And let's not forget the good old tip-off; there's plenty of family members who get worried sick about their relative's state of mind who would rather the police intervened at an early stage.

        Contrast that to the US; possession of a gun is most likely to be legal. There's no real reason to arrest the guy or intrude on their electronic life if the police stop them with a boot/trunk full of guns and ammo. Lots of people have guns, it's nothing special. In fact, without some fairly intrusive powers the cops' only option is to release that guy and follow them around on the off chance they launch an attack somewhere. So that doesn't work at all well.

        Instead they pretty much have to present evidence of motive prior to getting an arrest or search warrant, and that will inevitably lead to widespread digital surveillance. Tip-offs are less effective too.

        I'm assuming Canadian gun law falls somewhere between the two. Interesting that they're asking the question. It all comes down to whether a population wants it's police force to be preventative (actually stop bad things happening) or reactive (ie nothing more than elaborate street cleaners). Most people previous the former.

      2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Straw Man

        "if cops want to read my email" then they are welcome, it's boring. I work on the theory that if I'm not prepared to write it on the bog wall then I'm not going to put it in an e-mail.

        If I had a mind to be naughty in a bad way then I certainly would not write it on a bog wall. Naughty in a good way - that's different... scribble scribble.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Straw Man

          I understand, but even if you don't care about your privacy from your government....

          "Naughty in a good way - that's different... "

          How long until that's not different for any reason to your government? I truely understand what you , mean, but as long as you keep giving, you'll always be asked for more. Governments aren't charities, they won't wait for your kind donations. Governments are stalking carnivores of self preservation by design, not by good will.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Straw Man

          "if cops want to read my email" then they are welcome, it's boring.

          And what if the email is something like a link to reset a password to a site which has access to your bank for instance? Maybe not the best way to reset a password but it happens. Would you want this to be available to 48 different official and semi-official bodies as in the UK? Even if you think you've nothing to hide or that it's boring you probably have a great deal to hide and you're probably contractually obliged to hide it - just check the T&Cs of any online accounts.

    3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Straw Man

      "safe and secure in the digital world" ... in that case show us that you can do it.

      Stop the spammers and scam artists ... that would be the first step.

    4. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Youngone Re: Straw Man

      ".....I don't expect law enforcement or national security investigators to even understand online security...." Really, or is it just you think it would be untrendy to accept that they might actually have some very informed people that know a lot more than you?

      I am reminded of an incident from a many years ago in rural Devon. A lesbian rights group wanted to hold a festival for women only on farmland near the village. The villagers, eager for the chance of some extra revenue, set up a meeting with the local Police and county services to discuss the group's requirements, which turned out to be one demand - "no men can be involved"! This was hilariously impossible as the local constabulary had no WPCs, the rubbish collection crews were (of course) all male, and all the local delivery drivers were chaps. The lesbians shrilly stuck to their impossible demand and the festival was eventually cancelled.

      Similarly, asking the public "how do you want to be spied on" is simply populist political nonsense - no-one wants to be spied upon (unless they have some celebutard-like mental condition that requires constant and fawning attention), but everyone expects the authorities to be protecting them from crooks, terrorists and foreign powers. All this will do is generate another echo chamber for the loudest shriekers of "privacy rights" rather than a real and practical debate. Just wait for the queues of clueless celebrities and "experts" to turn it into another ego-massaging event.

  4. Queeg
    Black Helicopters

    So let me get this straight...

    Along with the Brits, the Yanks, the Aussies and the Kiwi's up until Snowden kicked over the trash can the Canucks were also lying, sneaky bastards who would do anything, say anything to get our info.

    And now they want our opinion.

    Damn! I think my Bullshit Meter just overloaded.

    *Black Chopper for obvious reasons

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So let me get this straight...

      I think Brits have a very simplistic idea of freedom.

      If you had been invaded by heavily armed terrorists who had "ethnically cleansed" your country and generations later continue to rape and pillage your people you might have a rather stricter demand for a heavy security presence to monitor the government, police, and courts

      1. Schultz
        WTF?

        very simplistic idea of freedom...

        "I think Brits have a very simplistic idea of freedom.

        If you had been invaded by heavily armed terrorists who had "ethnically cleansed" your country and generations later continue to rape and pillage your people you might have a rather stricter demand for a heavy security presence to monitor the government, police, and courts"

        So you think the Normans will just go home if you give the police some extra powers?

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: very simplistic idea of freedom...

          Normans? Pah, what have the Normans ever done for us eh?

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. keith_w

          Re: very simplistic idea of freedom...

          Don't for get the Angles, Saxons and Danes. The Romans went home. Britain for Celts!

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: keith_w Re: very simplistic idea of freedom...

            ".....Britain for Celts!" The Celts did not originate in Britain, they came here from Europe and displaced other ethnic groups already here.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: keith_w very simplistic idea of freedom...

              ".....Britain for Celts!" The Celts did not originate in Britain, they came here from Europe and displaced other ethnic groups already here.

              So they're like grey squirrels?

          2. David 132 Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: very simplistic idea of freedom...

            Don't for get the Angles, Saxons and Danes. The Romans went home. Britain for Celts!

            Yeah.

            ROMANES EUNT DOMUS!

      2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: So let me get this straight...

        Examples please. Russia? Home-grown terrorists, called oligarchs. China, ditto. Anywhere else aside from war zones?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So let me get this straight...

      At least the Canucks are trying to be a little more open and offering some public discourse.

      Unlike the current British government who would rather ignore what you think and do absolutely everything in secret to hide their incompetence.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: AC Re: So let me get this straight...

        "....Unlike the current British government who would rather ignore what you think and do absolutely everything in secret to hide their incompetence." Bullshit. You and the rest of the voters get your opportunity to vote for the MPs you want at least every four years. You forgot that many in Labour and the clueless Left/Greens/Anarchists at the last election waffled on about "mass surveillance" and "privacy rights", and lost the election. The problem for you lot is the majority of the electorate have a lot bigger worries than surveillance. You don't like it, then go do some campaigning elsewhere or just admit the majority do not share your views (regardless of the minority viewpoint that seems prevalent amongst the posters here, the majority of which seem neither British nor Canadian voters).

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: AC So let me get this straight...

          You forgot that many in Labour and the clueless Left/Greens/Anarchists at the last election waffled on about "mass surveillance" and "privacy rights", and lost the election.

          We remember that Labour, when in govt, had similar ideas, including identity cards. We also remember that Labour have a long track record of appalling economic management. There are good reasons why they lost the election. Sadly, this seems to be a party-neutral issue. Home Secs. of any political persuasion seem to go native PDQ.

  5. Ole Juul Silver badge

    hidden agenda

    Since the ones asking the question don't know how net security works and they're asking people who likely know less, I can only assume that this is really about something else.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: hidden agenda

      "I can only assume that this is really about something else."

      Maybe just PR, but maybe something along the lines of plausible deniability.

  6. Haku

    Take off you hosers!

    Is in the general direction of how people should respond.

  7. ST Silver badge
    Angel

    Evidently, Le French is not El Reg's Le Forte

    Title says it all.

    Comment est-ce que vous voudriez qu'on vous espionne.

    Maybe.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Evidently, Le French is not El Reg's Le Forte

      To be fair, French is also often not the government's 'le forte.' The "translations" I see sometimes...

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Evidently, Le French is not El Reg's Le Forte

      According to a couple of French friends of mine who's both spent about six months each in Canada, Canadians cannot speak French.

      Mind you, the French can be quite fussy about that sort of thing.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Evidently, Le French is not El Reg's Le Forte

        "Mind you, the French can be quite fussy about that sort of thing."

        Belgians, for instance, can think of at least septante to nonante-neuf reasons why French French is stupid.

      2. W4YBO

        Re: Evidently, Le French is not El Reg's Le Forte

        "Mind you, the French can be quite fussy about that sort of thing."

        So can Canadians...

      3. GX5000

        Re: Evidently, Le French is not El Reg's Le Forte

        Right, that's why we have the second largest primarily French-speaking city in the world

        I'll let you guess the name, criss dépais.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Evidently, Le French is not El Reg's Le Forte

          "criss dépais"

          What language is that?

  8. Chris Gray 1
    Meh

    Done.

    There - I'm a Canuck and just submitted the form. Took waaaay to long, though. I expect my answers would be acceptable to most of the commentards here.

    1. Ole Juul Silver badge

      Re: Done.

      I'm still working on it. It's hard to send the right message without just telling them to f**k off, which they wouldn't understand any more than they do the actual internet issues. This form is written with a mind to get the answers they want.

      1. Oengus Silver badge

        Re: Done.

        This form is written with a mind to get the answers they want.

        Yes Prime minister on Surveys

        Aren't all surveys written to get the answer that the survey writer wants (especially Government surveys).

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: Oengus Re: Done.

          ".....Aren't all surveys written to get the answer that the survey writer want...." It's called the Three Yes Close or the Yes-Set Close, has been used in professional sales for decades, and has been utilised by both ends of the political spectrum to influence voters in polls and surveys for almost as long.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Canadian spies

    Most polite in the world.

    They always send a thank you card after the fact.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Canadian spies - They always send a thank you card after the fact.

      I forget which (US) humorist it was, but he said that the difference between the US and Canada was that the US was like an in-your-face male 18 year old and Canada was like an educated 35 year old woman. I'm not sure quite how I would feel about being spied on by an educated 35 year old woman, but if I started getting thank you letters I would really worry. Especially if they were in French.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Canadian spies - They always send a thank you card after the fact.

        the difference between the US and Canada was that the US was like an in-your-face male 18 year old and Canada was like an educated 35 year old woman

        With Trump I suspect that to drop to an armed in-your-face 14 year old soon.

  10. wolfetone Silver badge

    Mockery

    About 3 weeks ago we had Remembrance Day, with loads of people saying "Lest we forget" and how we should all be thankful for the freedom we have that these men fought and died for.

    1 week ago the British Government decide to recind that freedom for the general population.

    This week the Canadian Government start the process to do it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mockery

      Hmmm, I think most people would like to go about their lives without being blown up, shot, stabbed, etc. The freedom to quietly enjoy life is what fallen of WWI and WWII were fighting for, and we'd be failing them if no one sought for preserve that.

      Expecting people who value that and who also happily use Google, Apple, Facebook, Uber, Fitbit, etc. to get upset en masse with law enforcement trying to do their job in a comparatively unobtrusive way seems, well, unrealistic. I mean, be grateful that they're not trying to do it the way the STASI operated.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: Mockery

        Most people like to live in a society where everyone is innocent until proven guilty. If I'm being spied on that means I'm guilty until proven innocent. But most people are too wound up with X Factor to give a damn until it's too late. Well, it's already too late.

        And be grateful that they're not like the STASI now or be grateful I have a while to wait before they turn out like the STASI?

      2. Patrician

        Re: Mockery

        As far as I am concerned I would have no issues with surveillance of net traffic, email etc. so long as it's sanctioned by an independent judicial appointee who has been shown that the security services or the police have "just cause" to request it on a case by case basis.

        Mass surveillance, as in the Snoopers Charter, in the UK, will not catch any organised terrorists or criminals as they will already have their own, secure, networks and systems setup to avoid any monitoring. All the Snoopers Charter will catch is the equivalent of the local shoplifter; those too stupid to not be caught.

      3. DasWezel
        Thumb Down

        Re: Mockery

        AC: Please cancel your DM subscription.

      4. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: AC Re: Mockery

        ".....The freedom to quietly enjoy life is what fallen of WWI and WWII were fighting for....." Actually, as pointed out in another classic episode of Yes Minister, that was more to do with the FO's ongoing policy of fucking over Europe. Of course, our switch to "destabilise from the inside" is in response to the change in tactics of the Germans, who failed in two attempts at forcing Europe into submission so went with the EU instead.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does it go like this.

    Question 1

    Do you:

    a) Allow us to monitor everything you do to keep you safe and cosy and warm. Please choose this option if you want to stay safe.

    or

    b) Stop us doing our lawful job, therefore allowing terrorists and Pedo's to kill your menfolk and rape your children. Please choose this option if you support terrorists and pedos

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Technically

    "Comment aimeriez-vous que nous vous espion?"

    In français métropolitain (i.e., as spoken in continental France), the verb would be "espionner", not "espier", which is archaic and has the meaning of watching, without any suggestion of concealment or dissimulation, same as in present day Occitan ("Te soi espiat a la carrièra hier e que te soi dit adissiatz, mai m'as pas entenut").

    However, I do not know whether or how Canadian French may use "espier". In any event, congratulations on introducing a convincing spelling mistake, of the sort native speakers make: It would be "espions", not "espion" (j'espie, tu espies, il/elle espie, nous espions, vous espiez, ils espient). It is pronounced the same though.

    Whether we're going to be spying or watching each other, might as well do it in an orthographically correct manner.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Sleep deprived

      Re: Technically

      That's "Comment aimeriez-vous qu'on vous espionne?"

      No French-speaking commentard suggested "espier", which doesn't exist.

      "épier" exists (everywhere) but is not as strong as "espionner".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Technically

        "No French-speaking commentard suggested "espier", which doesn't exist."

        If you read the OP (who wasn't me) again you will see that he or she correctly refers to "espier" as archaic. The subsequent reference to Occitan might give more of a clue.

        é in modern French often supersedes stressed es in older French, where pronunciation has changed to be easier - in the same way ê has replaced unstressed es (guêpe for guespe).

        1. Sleep deprived

          Re: Technically

          The "Comment aimeriez-vous que nous vous espion?" subtitle does not suggest "espier" as a verb. It's just a poor translation, likely intentional.

          And, no, French Canada does not use "espier". Digital spying rendered it archaic ;)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Technically

            > The "Comment aimeriez-vous que nous vous espion?" subtitle does not suggest "espier" as a verb.

            If you pay attention you will notice the byline is meant to poke fun at Canada's bilingualism by translating the headline into dodgy French.

  13. Flip

    ROT13 for bad guys

    Here's one of the questions from the survey:

    "How can law enforcement and national security agencies reduce the effectiveness of encryption for individuals and organizations involved in crime or threats to the security of Canada, yet not limit the beneficial uses of encryption by those not involved in illegal activities?"

    The only correct answer to this question is that it is not possible to do this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ROT13 for bad guys

      > "How can law enforcement and national security agencies reduce the effectiveness of encryption for individuals and organizations involved in crime or threats to the security of Canada, yet not limit the beneficial uses of encryption by those not involved in illegal activities?"

      By infiltrating said organisations and gathering intelligence the old-fashioned way¹?

      > The only correct answer to this question is that it is not possible to do this.

      You are mistaken my dear fellow. See above.

      ¹ It was good enough for everyone all the way from Sun-Tzu to here, so what has changed? And by the way, encryption is as old as language itself. In fact, Chomsky has argued that one of language's functions is to obscure meaning, which may lead us to consider it a form of encryption (and yes, I know about Native American radio operators in WWII).

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: ROT13 for bad guys

        "In fact, Chomsky has argued that one of language's functions is to obscure meaning, "

        Having had to read him at university I would just like to say that he has been highly successful at this himself. Pity the secret service that has to spy on modern non-STEM academics.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ROT13 for bad guys

          > Having had to read him at university I would just like to say that he has been highly successful at this himself

          On the bright side, there is a man who practises what he preaches.

  14. C Montgomery Burns

    Our Liberal Government here in Canada has taken to online polling as a means of providing some political cover for what they were planning to do anyway. It theoretically makes people feel all warm and fuzzy that they're being "consulted".

    Of course it's worded like garbage, with leading questions. But it doesn't matter, since the results will in no way be public, or audited, or even likely read.

    Hey, here's our new law, you told us it was what you wanted.

  15. Bucky 2

    The Locker Room Protocol

    Also known as "bare it and share it."

    If there's no expectation of privacy, then the fair thing to do is to make sure that I get to know everything about you that you get to know about me. A naked dude looking at my dick is just curious. A fully clothed one is creepy.

  16. JaitcH
    Happy

    So very Canadian ...

    unlike the despots of the USA and the UK.

    Nice to know they care enough to ask ... even if they ignore you later!

  17. techie2

    Can't spy on home network

    They can spy on me if I am using any public infrastructure, but they can't spy and trying to get information from my home network, which is totally private and personal. They need my permission to access information from my home infrastructure.

  18. Mike VandeVelde
    Facepalm

    the smell of consultation in the morning

    "How can law enforcement and national security agencies reduce the effectiveness of encryption for individuals and organizations involved in crime or threats to the security of Canada, yet not limit the beneficial uses of encryption by those not involved in illegal activities?"

    My answer:

    That's impossible. Anyone who would ask such a stupid question should not have anything to do with this.

    8D

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: the smell of consultation in the morning

      Ahem. That problem's already been solved.

      https://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3514.txt

  19. JennyZ

    Python

    Can I have some rat pudding...with not quite so much rat innit?

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