340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Santa, I've been good -- can I have a paper shredder?

Pacanukeha deserves credit for highlighting this story from Maclean's: Jonathon Gatehouse put together a pretty comprehensive -- and sobering -- look at privacy, professional "snooping" companies and the problems inherent in policing cross-border data trafficking. The article opens with a brilliant hook: Maclean's journos, using a combination of patience, minimal 'net-savvy and a few hundred dollars, acquired detailed lists of phone calls made by Jennifer Stoddart, Canada's Federal Privacy Commissioner.

Anyone familiar with these issues probably won't be as dumbstruck as some of Gatehouse's interview subjects were (David Elder, Bell Canada's vice-president of regulatory law, seemed particularly clueless), but the article still provides some juicy morsels to linger over, and it's a great 'oh yeah?' article you can forward to the stubbornly naive friend who refuses to take basic precautions regarding their private information.

It also touches on something that's been worrying me for a while now: the gutting of the Privacy Commissioner's office ever since that fucktard Radwanski decided to go all Caligula on his staff. I hadn't realized how badly the office's budget had been slashed, but I remember the conversations Pac, Steenblogen and I had at the time: we all watched the Radwanker dig himself deeper and deeper with every passing day and we all shuddered to think of how the blowback would affect his office and its resources. Seems our pessimism was well-founded.

Jennifer Stoddart is a dedicated public servant who has spent years -- first working for the province of Quebec, and since 2003 as the federal privacy commissioner -- trying to protect Canadians' personal information from prying governments and greedy businesses. A lawyer by trade, she has impeccable qualifications for the job, with a strong background in constitutional law and human rights.

But there's a point to be made about the type of highly confidential data that can be obtained by anyone with an Internet connection and a credit card, and Stoddart has the misfortune of being the perfect illustration. Not that she's pleased about it. Her eyes widen as she recognizes what has just been dropped on the conference table in her downtown Ottawa office -- detailed lists of the phone calls made from her Montreal home, Eastern Townships' chalet, and to and from her government-issued BlackBerry cellphone. Her mouth hangs open, and she appears near tears. "Oh my God," she says finally. "I didn't realize this was possible. This is really alarming."


  • At 10:14 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said…

    you see I can do it Marc!


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