It is early in the morning here just outside Toronto in fortress suburbia. I’m reading through the morning news hoping for anything redeeming when I find a piece about the Canadian government trolling social media for information on the citizenry. Now, while this is a questionable behaviour it isn’t exactly illegal.
If you spray paint a poem on a wall you can’t seriously hope to claim that it is a private and/or personal message. So, why are people raging about the government reading their spray pain soliloquies?
From The Globe and Mail :
Government departments are collecting data from Canadians through social media “without any direct relation to a program or activity” and despite users’ “certain expectation of privacy,” interim commissioner Chantal Bernier wrote in a Feb. 13 letter to Treasury Board President Tony Clement.
The revelation signals Ottawa is not only monitoring social media, but actually gathering what it sees.
While users might have an expectation of privacy on social media it is a misguided notion. Even if there are some privacy controls enabled there is no guarantee that the user data is protected.
While Mr. Clement doesn’t see what the problem with collecting the data he is only partially correct. When people take a picture of their breakfast and post it to a public forum like Twitter or Facebook there can be no expectation that the image won’t be seen by whomever happens upon it. But, once the government takes to collecting and correlating that data we have a thorny issue. How is this data being used? Is this a violation of the Privacy Act? I think this will unwind as yet another problem for the current government who is currently trying to jam through legislation to provide monitoring of Canadians with less control that currently exist in the legal system.
I wrote about Bill C-13 back in the fall. This is nothing more than a trojan horse to ram through their increased control with a reduction of accountability.
To put a fine point on what can happen as a result of data collection, much like with metadata in the US,
The U.S. government “kill[s] people based on metadata,” but it doesn’t do that with the trove of information collected on American communications, according to former head of the National Security Agency Gen. Michael Hayden. 
The part of this collection of data by various Canadian agencies that really sticks in my craw is the question that has not been asked. Who is paying for all of this data?
(Image used under CC from Tim Wayne)