Rights group launches suit against feds over spying 0
Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, BC Civil Liberties Association in Vancouver, B.C. on Tuesday October 22, 2013. BCCLA launches a lawsuit against the federal government over allegations it has spied on Canadian citizens. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
In the first legal action of its kind, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association has launched a lawsuit against the federal government arguing Canada’s surveillance of its citizens goes against the Charter of Rights.
The BCCLA filed the lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court Tuesday against the Attorney General of Canada, which represents Community Security Establishment Canada.
The privacy watchdog alleged actions by the government body violate legal protections against unreasonable search and seizure, as well as infringe on freedom of expression by monitoring international phone calls, texts and online activities.
Children’s advocate Cindy Blackstock, who won a decision by Canada’s privacy commissioner that her privacy was violated by government agencies monitoring her online activity, welcomed news of the lawsuit.
“Sadly, it’s a necessary thing to protect the democratic and free rights that we feel we have in Canada,” Blackstock said.
“I really hope that the federal government co-operates and allows the court to review it in a fair and impartial manner instead of doing what they did in our case, which is withholding documents and trying to get it dismissed on technicalities.”
Blackstock was monitored by bureaucrats and lawyers from the Departments of Justice and Aboriginal Affairs after launching a human rights complaint on behalf of aboriginal children.
She alleged the government was trying to dig up dirt to use against her in an attempt to discredit her human rights complaint.
Micheal Vonn of the BCCLA said the group’s lawsuit focuses on international monitoring, but Blackstock’s case highlights such concerns as the interest of the government to spy on those who speak against it.
“As an illustration of what the government is interested in monitoring, there’s something to be said about that (Blackstock case),” Vonn said.
Currently, Vonn said, it is not known who the CSEC is spying on and what information is being gathered, but expects it to come to light as the lawsuit should force the body to release documents.
Along with the lawsuit, Internet freedom advocacy organization OpenMedia.ca has launched what it calls a public outreach campaign asking Canadians to sign its support for the action.
The Department of National Defence has responded by saying the CSEC has no authority to target Canadians.