Category Archives: Canada

CISA Is Now The Law: How Congress Quietly Passed The Second Patriot Act


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Back in 2014, civil liberties and privacy advocates were up in arms when the government tried to quietly push through the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA, a law which would allow federal agencies – including the NSA – to share cybersecurity, and really any information with private corporations “notwithstanding any other provision of law.” The most vocal complaint involved CISA’s information-sharing channel, which was ostensibly created for responding quickly to hacks and breaches, and which provided a loophole in privacy laws that enabled intelligence and law enforcement surveillance without a warrant.

Ironically, in its earlier version, CISA had drawn the opposition of tech firms including Apple, Twitter, Reddit, as well as the Business Software Alliance, the Computer and Communications Industry Association and many others including countless politicians and, most amusingly, the White House itself.

In April, a coalition of 55 civil liberties groups and security experts signed onto an open letter opposing it. In July, the Department of Homeland Security itself warned that the bill could overwhelm the agency with data of “dubious value” at the same time as it “sweep[s] away privacy protections.” Most notably, the biggest aggregator of online private content, Facebook, vehemently opposed the legislation however a month ago it was “surprisingly” revealed that Zuckerberg had been quietly on the side of the NSA all along as we reported in “Facebook Caught Secretly Lobbying For Privacy-Destroying “Cyber-Security” Bill.” 

Even Snowden chimed in:

Following the blitz response, the push to pass CISA was tabled following a White House threat to veto similar legislation. Then, quietly, CISA reemerged after the same White House mysteriously flip-flopped, expressed its support for precisely the same bill in August.

And then the masks fell off, when it became obvious that not only are corporations eager to pass CISA despite their previous outcry, but that they have both the White House and Congress in their pocket.

As Wired reminds us, when the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act by a vote of 74 to 21 in October, privacy advocates were again “aghast” that the key portions of the law were left intact which they said make it more amenable to surveillance than actual security, claiming that Congress has quietly stripped out “even more of its remaining privacy protections.”

“They took a bad bill, and they made it worse,” says Robyn Greene, policy counsel for the Open Technology Institute.

But while Congress was preparing a second assault on privacy, it needed a Trojan Horse with which to enact the proposed legislation into law without the public having the ability to reject it.

It found just that by attaching it to the Omnibus $1.1 trillion Spending Bill, which passed the House early this morning, passed the Senate moments ago and will be signed into law by the president in the coming hours.

This is how it happened, again courtesy of Wired:

In a late-night session of Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced a new version of the “omnibus” bill, a massive piece of legislation that deals with much of the federal government’s funding. It now includes a version of CISA as well. Lumping CISA in with the omnibus bill further reduces any chance for debate over its surveillance-friendly provisions, or a White House veto. And the latest version actually chips away even further at the remaining personal information protections that privacy advocates had fought for in the version of the bill that passed the Senate.

It gets: it appears that while CISA was on hiatus, US lawmakers – working under the direction of corporations adnt the NSA – were seeking to weaponize the revised legislation, and as Wired says, the latest version of the bill appended to the omnibus legislation seems to exacerbate the problem of personal information protections.

It creates the ability for the president to set up “portals” for agencies like the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, so that companies hand information directly to law enforcement and intelligence agencies instead of to the Department of Homeland Security. And it also changes when information shared for cybersecurity reasons can be used for law enforcement investigations. The earlier bill had only allowed that backchannel use of the data for law enforcement in cases of “imminent threats,” while the new bill requires just a “specific threat,” potentially allowing the search of the data for any specific terms regardless of timeliness.

Some, like Senator Ron Wyden, spoke out out against the changes to the bill in a press statement, writing they’d worsened a bill he already opposed as a surveillance bill in the guise of cybersecurity protections.

Senator Richard Burr, who had introduced the earlier version of bill, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Americans deserve policies that protect both their security and their liberty,” he wrote. “This bill fails on both counts.”

Why was the CISA included in the omnibus package, which just passed both the House and the Senate? Because any “nay” votes  – or an Obama – would also threaten the entire budget of the federal government. In other words, it was a question of either Americans keeping their privacy or halting the funding of the US government, in effect bankrupting the nation.

And best of all, the rushed bill means there will be no debate.

The bottom line as OTI’s Robyn Green said, “They’ve got this bill that’s kicked around for years and had been too controversial to pass, so they’ve seen an opportunity to push it through without debate. And they’re taking that opportunity.

The punchline: “They’re kind of pulling a Patriot Act.”

And when Obama signs the $1.1 trillion Spending Bill in a few hours, as he will, it will be official: the second Patriot Act will be the law, and with it what little online privacy US citizens may enjoy, will be gone.



Source : Zero Hedge.

Activist Post: Disloyal to the United States? Wesley Clark Wants to Detain You For Duration of War on Terror

Former US General Wesley Clark went on MSNBC to promote detaining domestic ‘radicals’ or people ‘disloyal to the United States’ in internment camps for the duration of the war on terror.

The host asked Clark “How do we fix self-radicalized lone wolves, domestically?”

First, Clark cites people who lose a job or break up with a girlfriend as being especially dangerous. Next he tells us what he’d do to those who’re disloyal to the U.S. during the war on terror.

“In World War II, if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech. We put them in a camp,” Clark continued, “They were prisoners of war.””If these people are radicalized, and they don’t support the United States, and they’re disloyal to the United States, as a matter of principle, fine, that’s their right, but it’s our (the government’s) right and our obligation to segregate them from the normal community for the duration of the conflict. And I think we’re going to have to get increasingly get tough on this.”


Source : Activist Post

Documents Reveal Canada’s Secret Hacking Tactics

Featured photo - Documents Reveal Canada’s Secret Hacking Tactics

Canada’s electronic surveillance agency has secretly developed an arsenal of cyberweapons capable of stealing data and destroying adversaries’ infrastructure, according to newly revealed classified documents.

Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, has also covertly hacked into computers across the world to gather intelligence, breaking into networks in Europe, Mexico, the Middle East and North Africa, the documents show.

The revelations, reported Monday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept, shine a light for the first time on how Canada has adopted aggressive tactics to attack, sabotage and infiltrate targeted computer systems.

The latest disclosures come as the Canadian government debates whether to hand over more powers to its spies to disrupt threats as part of the controversial anti-terrorism law, Bill C-51.

Christopher Parsons, a surveillance expert at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, told CBC News that the new revelations showed that Canada’s computer networks had already been “turned into a battlefield without any Canadian being asked: Should it be done? How should it be done?”

According to documents obtained by The Intercept from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, CSE has a wide range of powerful tools to perform “computer network exploitation” and “computer network attack” operations. These involve hacking into networks to either gather intelligence or to damage adversaries’ infrastructure, potentially including electricity, transportation or banking systems. The most well-known example of a state-sponsored “attack” operation involved the use of Stuxnet, a computer worm that was reportedly developed by the United States and Israel to sabotage Iranian nuclear facilities.

One document from CSE, dated from 2011, outlines the range of methods the Canadian agency has at its disposal as part of a “cyber activity spectrum” to both defend against hacking attacks and to perpetrate them. CSE says in the document that it can “disable adversary infrastructure,” “control adversary infrastructure,” or “destroy adversary infrastructure” using the attack techniques. It can also insert malware “implants” on computers to steal data.

The document suggests CSE has access to a series of sophisticated malware tools developed by the NSA as part of a program known as QUANTUM. As The Intercept has previously reported, the QUANTUM malware can be used for a range of purposes — such as to infect a computer and copy data stored on its hard drive, to block targets from accessing certain websites, or to disrupt their file downloads. Some of the QUANTUM techniques rely on redirecting a targeted person’s internet browser to a malicious version of a popular website, such as Facebook, that then covertly infects their computer with the malware.

According to one top-secret NSA briefing paper, dated from 2013, Canada is considered an important player in global hacking operations. Under the heading “NSA and CSEC cooperate closely in the following areas,” the paper notes that the agencies work together on “active computer network access and exploitation on a variety of foreign intelligence targets, including CT [counter terrorism], Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and Mexico.” (The NSA had not responded to a request for comment at time of publication. The agency has previously told The Intercept that it “works with foreign partners to address a wide array of serious threats, including terrorist plots, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and foreign aggression.”)

Notably, CSE has gone beyond just adopting a range of tools to hack computers.

According to the Snowden documents, it has a range of “deception techniques” in its toolbox. These include “false flag” operations to “create unrest,” and using so-called “effects” operations to “alter adversary perception.” A false-flag operation usually means carrying out an attack, but making it look like it was performed by another group — in this case, likely another government or hacker. Effects operations can involve sending out propaganda across social media or disrupting communications services. The newly revealed documents also reveal that CSE says it can plant a “honeypot” as part of its deception tactics, possibly a reference to some sort of bait posted online that lures in targets so that they can be hacked or monitored.

The apparent involvement of CSE in using the deception tactics suggests it is operating in the same area as a secretive British unit known as JTRIG, a division of the country’s eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. Last year, The Intercept published documents from Snowden showing that the JTRIG unit uses a range of effects operations to manipulate information online, such as by rigging the outcome of online polls, sending out fake messages on Facebook across entire countries, and posting negative information about targets online to damage their reputations.

CSE declined to comment on any specific details contained in the latest revelations. In a general statement issued to The Intercept and CBC News, a spokesman for the agency said: “In moving from ideas or concepts to planning and implementation, we examine proposals closely to ensure that they comply with the law and internal policies, and that they ultimately lead to effective and efficient ways to protect Canada and Canadians against threats.”

The spokesman said that some of the Snowden documents do “not necessarily reflect current CSE practices or programs.” But he refused to explain which capabilities detailed in the documents the agency is not using, if any. Doing so, he said, would breach the Security of Information Act, a Canadian law designed to protect state secrets.

Photo: Shutterstock


Source : The Intercept.

Fear Incorporated: Canada’s Anti-Terror Bill and the Emergence of a Deep Police State |

Last October, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper hid in a closet as shots rang out in the halls of the Canadian Parliament. The “terrorist attack,” which tragically took the life of Nathan Cirillo, a soldier on sentry duty at the National War Memorial, was the act of an unstable 32-year-old man named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

Zehaf-Bibeau, whose father was Libyan, had converted to Islam in 2004 and had no known ties to any terrorist group. He’d been living in a homeless shelter and had long-term problems with substance abuse. His attack – along with another that occurred near Montreal shortly before it, in which another man with a long history of mental illness ran over a soldier with his car – were seized on by politicians and the media to push forward new tools needed to fight “Islamic extremism” both at home and abroad.

Soon after Zehaf-Bibeau’s attack, Canadian pilots joined in NATO airstrikes on ISIL targets in Iraq, drawing the country into renewed war in that nation – a conflict former Prime Minister Jean Chretian had wisely avoided in 2003. Meanwhile, on the domestic front, the Harper government crafted legislation further empowering Canadian security services at the expense of rights guaranteed to Canadians under the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Due to the Conservative majority in Parliament, and aided with support from the Liberal Party, the final bill, C-51, easily passed its second reading – despite being more wide-ranging than most observers expected. One glaring example was a provision in the bill allowing police to engage in what were previously illegal searches and seizures in terrorism cases.

If made into law, Canadian judges will now be able to issue “disruption warrants” in terrorism cases that “would give cops and spies the go-ahead to ‘enter any place or open or obtain access to anything,’ copy any documents and install or remove anything they see fit.” Some of the language in C-51 defines terrorism so broadly, it appears that anyone who disagrees with neo-liberal aims – whether in economic or foreign policy – could be tarred with the “terrorist” brush.

The Public Debate

Thankfully, there have been strong voices opposing the bill. The NDP, the left-leaning Official Opposition party, along with Elizabeth May, the leader of Canada’s Green Party, have demanded more hearings on C-51 before it is passed into law. Many Parliamentarians have also said they will vote against it if substantial amendments aren’t made to the final bill.

The Conservatives and their Liberal allies talk as if terrorism is an existential threat. The desire of some sensible people in Ottawa to further study and debate C-51 provoked this response from Conservative MP Daryl Kramp: “Time is of the essence. I don’t want Rome to burn when Nero fiddles. The terrorism threat is real.”

While it’s unlikely that the second largest country in the world will catch on fire anytime soon due to the actions of “lone wolves” like Zehaf-Bibeau, Kramp and others like him have showed themselves unable to avoid using such tired metaphors. And it’s this fearful attitude that has already led the government to legalize “preventive arrests” – a process wherein Canadians can be “detained without charges and arrested without warrants.” Bill C-51 goes even further in eroding constitutional rights than the eight pieces of anti-terrorism legislation already passed by the Canadian government since 2001.

Besides the objections put forward by the NDP and the Greens, in an unprecedented display of unity, four former prime ministers and five former Supreme Court justices sent a letter to the Globe and Mail national newspaper on the subject of C-51. In an important passage, they stated, “Protecting human rights and protecting public safety are complementary objectives, but experience has shown that serious human rights abuses can occur in the name of maintaining national security.”

A few sensible commentators have also noted that the money that will be spent as a result of the bill – not to mention the costs of bombing ISIL in Iraq – could have a greater impact if it were used to help the mentally ill in the country, not only regarding possible acts of terrorism but also mass shootings at schools and in other public places that have claimed far more victims.

Criminalizing Dissent

In recent years, the Canadian government has also created a new class of terrorist: “anti-petroleum extremists.” These dangerous subversives have, according to a report issued last summer by Canada’s federal police, the RCMP, “aligned themselves with violent aboriginal extremists. As the petroleum industry expands its operations across Canada, criminal activity associated to the anti-petroleum movement will increase nationally.”

The Conservative Party in general, and Stephen Harper in particular, are known to be very friendly with the petroleum industry, especially tar sands producers who wield significant influence in the country. In December, the Harper complained that it was “crazy” for opposition MPs and environmentalists to demand more regulations on the industry to combat global warming. He has also used his majority rule to muzzle government scientists, especially those researching climate issues, placing restrictions on their right to speak to the press or the public.

Although there is a vague clause protecting “advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression” in the text, Bill C-51 doesn’t define when these protected behaviors cross over into the “promotion” or the actual commitment of terrorist acts. For example, C-51 makes clear that hurting the country’s economic interests in any way falls under this definition. Thus, blocking a pipeline or organizing a protest without permission from authorities could be considered terrorism if the bill becomes law.

It isn’t just environmentalists who are likely to be targeted under C-51. Non-violent animal rights activists and anti-capitalists are other groups that federal authorities have labeled “extremists” of late. The bill could even make most forms of non-violent protest and civil disobedience technically illegal, especially when those activities haven’t been pre-approved by authorities.

Conservatives used to talk about the difference between “authoritarian” and “totalitarian” regimes. Totalitarian regimes, associated by conservative intellectuals with the Soviet Union and its most extreme surveillance state in East Germany, were considered worse than authoritarian governments like the Latin American military dictatorships supported by the West.

But recent revelations from the trove of documents provided by Edward Snowden revealed that the CSE, Canada’s version of the NSA, is up to similar tricks as the U.S. agency, and is only accountable to a single retired judge. Add C-51 into the mix and we’re on the road to creating a state the totalitarians of old could only dream of.

If history teaches us anything it’s that governments rarely relinquish new powers once they’re acquired. Laws like Bill C-51 are likely to stay on the books regardless of who takes over the government in the upcoming election. Canadians need to raise their voices in opposition to Bill C-51 before it’s too late.

Stephen Harper, Bill C-51, constitutional erosions, constitutional rights, anti-terrorism legislation, tar sands, environmental protests


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Government exploits attacks on military to push security agenda, Greenwald says

Government exploits attacks on military to push security agenda, Greenwald says

The federal government is “shamelessly” exploiting last week’s extremist attacks to dismantle liberties and core principles of justice, says journalist Glenn Greenwald.

The Pulitzer-Prize winning U.S. reporter warned that the Conservative government, aided by docile news media, is purposely fuelling alarmist speculation about the domestic threat of Islamic terrorism to ram through legislation giving the state extraordinary new powers over citizens.

It remained unclear whether last Monday’s and Wednesday’s assaults were individual deranged acts of religious-inspired violence, or somehow the work of Islamic terror groups.

Yet, “we’ve allowed this word terrorism to take on such profound meaning that right before our eyes governments dismantle the protections and defining attributes of western justice in order to keep us safer,” Greenwald told an audience of more than 1,000 people in downtown Ottawa on Saturday night.

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