Home > C13, cdnpoli, Digital Policy, NSA, Politics, Privacy > Mass Surveillance to Come to a Political Peak Within Days

Mass Surveillance to Come to a Political Peak Within Days

The NSA spying scandal is about to come to a political peak over the next few days and weeks with the Harper government still pushing on mass surveillance in the form of anti-bullying legislation.  Next week (precisely the afternoon of Friday January 17th 2014) US President Barack Obama is expected to address the NSA reforms head on.  A large number of political pundits expect that Obama will stop the NSA from collecting meta data from Americans, due to the fact that if this issue hits the US Supreme Court; the court will likely strike it down on constitutional grounds.  Obama coming out curtailing domestic meta data collection would be in stark contrast to the Canadian Governments agenda in accelerating the use of meta data by law enforcement agencies through its anti-bullying legislation in bill C-13.  Michael Geist explains the use of meta data around lawful access in bill C-13 a recent interview on TVO’s The Agenda. It isn’t clear on whether Obama will stop the mass collection of meta data from foreign communications (including meta data from Canadians or from EU citizens) even after the EU sent a stark economic threat this past week to the US and Canada over the NSA’s activities.

The politics I would suspect is going to get extremely interesting globally in the coming days and weeks over the issue of mass surveillance.  The political responses from global governing bodies are going to happen hot and heavy, with very real stakes economically and politically for all leaders.  It is very clear from following the political angle in the US that Obama will not accept a halt to mass collection of communications, however will do what is minimally required to try and reassure Americans that their rights are safe, and to save face on any future Supreme Court ruling. US Democratic Senator Ron Wyden who met with Obama on the issue of mass surveillance yesterday tweeted the following:

From the sounds of this tweet lawmakers are having an extremely hard time making their point to Obama, and are asking for the public’s help. A lot of the focus in the US politically has been what to do with Edward Snowden. Whether he’s a hero or a criminal.  That effectively has distracted the public purposely away from the mass surveillance debate.  This maybe to mute public opposition at a critical time in this debate. Even our Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird came out last month strongly suggesting that Snowden should turn himself in.  Meanwhile this week the EU Parliament has voted to invite Snowden to testify in European Parliament later this month around the NSA revelations, as they begin to produce their final political response to protect their citizens human rights in the weeks ahead.

Advocacy groups announced a day of protest on February 11th, 2014 against NSA surveillance. It doesn’t sound like these advocacy groups are going to be happy with whatever Obama announces next Friday either.

There’s a saying that “history repeats itself”.  For if we are truly students of history, then now is the time when we must all demand better from our political representatives, while we still can. Here is an excellent interview with former NSA cryptologist William Binney, and US Journalist Chris Hedges on the lessons history can teach us around mass surveillance:

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