Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Security: Colour it Green

The Government of Canada is currently engaged in a  process of seeking input in what it calls its "Green Paper' on a revised security apparatus in Canada.  This is, possibly, the new Liberal government's, 'promise' to reevaluate the legislation set in place to 'protect Canada from terrorist attacks' after 9/11.  That has done a remarkable job,  as there haven't been any notable terrorist attacks in Canada since 9/11.  But that's no reason for not 'plugging the holes', that haven't been noticed yet, in the legislation.

                                                                        As if, eh?
 But is that real evidence of the effectiveness of the current legislation, or the ability of our security services to stay on top of a burgeoning threat?

 Well, if you listen to the head honchos, "No!"

The straight poop on a National 'Necessity'

Let's face it, right now we're defenceless, eh?  

CSIS has been remarkable in saying - when it does make public utterance - that the 'threat' is growing and developing and becoming ever so much more robust. So robust that CSIS is about to 'pop'?

And coming out of the blocks on that public consultation-green paper 'thingy' is Canada's premier police service, and its 'Big Stick of Solictiude'. To-day our RCMP 'commish' - took to the airways and media hubs, in class 5 dress-down office (casual) uniform, to decry the fact that the Force is to-day faced with new investigative hurdles due to cell phones and the 'innernet', that requires them to seek to acquire all basic data, everywhere, in Canada,  and require your internet service provider to store all your business for the future reference of police.

                                               'We just can't guarantee your protection' -

                                                                      Nor can we.
He showed up, as is his wont, with a Powerpoint presentation that shows just how far Canadian police are behind other civilized nations in tracking the business of the ordinary joe - New Zealand is waaaaay ahead  (having almost all its 'security' list spots 'checked' while the poor Canucks have none!)  If there had been a study of how much more effective New Zealand police were, as a result, I'm sure he would have presented it, No?

But isn't New Zealand famous for the case against "Kim DotCom" - the multimillionaire internet data thief?  After a court case lasting more than a half decade now, he's out 'on bail' and, of late, now able to travel internationally.  Obviously he has a good lawyer, a kazillion ill-gotten Kiwi dollars and  his case must have started in the 'old days' when police actually had to work to find evidence and prove something.  Back in the 'bad old days' when they had to warn you that you could give them evidence to convict yourself.  Or, 'horrors', when they had to show a judge that they had 'a case' to get a judicial warrant to  allow  them to search you,  or your house, or  to  play 'sneaky pete' and 'spy' on you to get evidence. But I divulge.

Commissioner Paulsen went on to enumerate a number of 'real' police case files that were hamstrung because either somebody had their rights protected, or refused to turn over their passwords or encrypted their communications.  He outlined a case of a child abuser who was thought to have files of his own children being abused on his 'locked cell phone'.  Now wherever would they get that impression, if they weren't finding images of his children somewhere else? And wouldn't they serve for a conviction?  Paulsen must have more knowledge of criminal behaviour than the rest of us, but even watching the movies would indicate that any crook who deliberately kept any kind of records of his sculduggery was a stiff sentence just waiting to happen. The real sharpies do everything viva voce and on the QT.  Having it all down in unencoded communications just seems like a big 'break' for the stupid.

He outlined some very expensive electronic wizardries gone wrong because of 'electronic tricks' the police never thought about and he decries electronic solutions tried,  that forced the police to go back to using 'less expensive' undercover agents (any of those I've heard about weren't cheap either) because the 'gizmos' were just too dang expensive.

Even though he had a heart-rending appeal about being 'stuck' and how somebody on-line had 'screwed-over his favorite niece' (probably those assholes from Nigeria), what Paulsen failed to do is make a convincing case about more data making police more effective, or Canadian citizens more secure.

Police 'mistakes' largely haven't happened because of things police didn't know, as much as from things they did know - and deliberately chose to ignore, or misinterpret. More information isn't going to prevent human nature.  And it's that 'lowest common denominator' part that should be the major concern. For the problems aren't going to be caused by the 'good' police, they're going to arise in the few 'bad apples that inhabit every organization'. If recent stories about policemen downloading official files to their home computers,  or worse still,  civilian employees accessing police databases for unknown personal reasons - as both happened this past week  - aren't a 'heads-up', then things like 'computer hacking' and guys like Snowden should be. For there is no indication that police and security can keep the information they already collect secure.

the green paper - backgrounder one page

To prepare Canadians for possible change - and the 'waffling' ( 'I really hate that sheeyat!  But I think it's really necessary') of Security Minister Ralph Gooddale over a recent CSI court case indicates there will be 'changes' - the Federal government has prepared a substantial website on the topic - with an overview of the proposed areas of legislation and a 'background document' to accompany each of the the feedback formS - multiple.

I took a glance at one page 'backgrounding':  'Information Sharing' - which outlined a bunch of info sharing scenarios. The ones that involved security interested me. A number of individuals interacted with a nefarious "Mr. A" to endanger Canada, possibly, in a number of  different ways. The document concludes with a synopsis of their faults and the actions to be taken.  But it, for me, begged a fundamental question: What about "Mr. A"?

If what he was doing, in each of these cases, wasn't prosecutable under the current law,  then the whole national edifice, and its National Security Act IS in trouble. Rather than develop a sledgehammer to nail every one of the B to L 'perps' in the background 'scenarios', and the very real prospect of  everybody else in Canada, why not just go after the  "Mr. A" who was also part of the endangerment of Canada?  Unless, of course, he's a CSIS 'operative', or a paid informant.  Somebody a pay grade or ten above duty counsel or  legal aid, would have to be protecting the hell out of his Charter Rights and Freedoms.

TorStar opinion piece

Omniscience is not a power I would trust to any security organization, just like omnipotence or any other attributes of what we used to call 'God'.  They're just not that good at much, yet.

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