Category Archives: Privacy

Anonymous – is it always the right way to act?

 

A few months ago, I watched a video released by Anonymous, asking to take actions against the boys involved in Rehtaeh Parsons’s death. The video release was addressed to the general public, police, rapists, Rehtaeh’s high school, and students who allegedly gang-raped Rehtaeh. The message was very powerful as Rehtaeh’s case was reopened and four boys were charged.

Anonymous is a group of international activists whose goal it is to “help govern the world.” Many of its members are programmers who often hack or threaten to release classified or sensitive information to the public, if an organization does not take certain actions.

One may consider Anonymous as a great organization that helps make our world a better place, but I sometimes question its actions. I personally don’t like when people hide behind a mask and coercing the government to act in a certain way. Such an approach can compromise the work that the government does, and can even be interpreted as being of a terrorist nature. I do understand that Anonymous may have the interest of people in mind, but we need to take a look at the big picture.

The government is there to protect its people. Public servants have the education and experience required to deal with certain situations. Anonymous on the other hand, my not necessarily have the experience or the necessary perspective to respond accordingly to perceived wrongs committed by the government. In fact, due its limited scope, the actions of Anonymous can cause more harm than good. For instance, in Rehtaeh’s case, releasing the names of the alleged rapists would have not only contravened the Youth Criminal Justice Act  that aims to protect the identity of minors, but it would have also prevented justice from being carried out properly. The release of the names of those boys, before the police and courts could determine their culpability would have compromised their security but also their right to a fair trial.

In summary, Anonymous tries to make the world a better place, but unfortunately, sometimes it does the opposite. It teaches other people that making threats and breaking the law are acceptable ways to achieve one’s goals. People must be mindful that such actions may compromise the core foundations on which our society is built.

Lawful Access may not be as bad as it seems.

If you do not know what lawful access is then maybe you should, because it affects you on a daily basis. Lawful access is comprised of three pieces of legislation that allows the Canadian government to access and retain a copy of all communication that takes place in Canada. The government can access this information through organizations that offer wireline, wireless, and internet technologies to Canadians.  The Federal Government explains on its website that it uses this information to monitor the online life of Canadians in order to prevent terror, drug trafficking, money laundering, and other threats that may affect Canadians.

Being monitored by the government may seem as a privacy breach and unlawful act, but is it actually?

Here is a great discussion among Canadian scholars who express their opinions about the topic:

 

In my personal opinion, I think that the fact that the government is taking those steps may be not as bad as we think. As internet users, we should not forget that the online world is a space where we live, spend time with our friends, look forward to new adventures, and share our life stories with other users. Thus, protection in the cyber space should be as important to us as in real life. After all, we all accept the importance of having the police, army, and other security measures in order to protect us from the bad guys. So why is it such an issue when the government is trying to do the same online?

I think that one of the reasons people are concerned with such surveillance is because they think that the government may abuse its powers to limit people’s freedoms. I agree that this is a legitimate concern, but how else can the government prevent serious crimes that are discussed and organized online? If people want cyberbullying to be stopped, if they want pedophiles to be caught before they commit a crime, and if they want to prevent terror attacks in their cities, then perhaps the government is justified in its actions.

This is my personal opinion on the topic. I wonder what you think. How can the government ensure our safety without compromising our privacy?