rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Did they just say that the government spied on 1 in 34 Canadians? You, your family, or your neighbours are likely victims

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Tell Harper: Defend online privacy

Canada's Privacy Commissioner has revealed that in just one year the government made 1.2 million requests for sensitive information about our private online activities from telecom companies, often without a warrant. To achieve numbers like this, the government would have to ask telecom companies to disclose the personal information of Canadians every 27 seconds.

And, if you think this type of surveillance could never affect you, guess again. Doing the math on these outrageous revelations show that the sensitive online activities of one in 34 Canadians have been requested. Given these staggering numbers, it is very likely that either you, your family, or your neighbours, are victims -- all without even being told your information was passed on to the authorities.

So where do our leaders stand on this dragnet surveillance? When the issue came up during question period in Parliament, Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused to take action on safeguarding our privacy and data security. He dismissed the outrageous number of privacy violations, describing them as the simple result of authorities making normal data requests "from time to time." Sure, if you consider "every 27 seconds for a year" to be "from time to time."


While your team at OpenMedia and Canadians everywhere were outraged by this gross inaction, it shouldn't come as a surprise given that the prime minister currently leads a multi-pronged effort to undermine our online privacy, including bills like the online spying Bill C-13 that would make it even easier for government to obtain your information without a warrant. Harper's government is also pushing Bill S-4, which would expose your private information to U.S.-style copyright trolling, and the government is still refusing to come clean about the reckless activities of its CSEC spy agency.

Each day that key decision-makers refuse to take action, dragnet online spying grows more secretive, extreme, and out-of-control. This is why, with the help of our friends at Leadnow, we've launched an exciting new campaign called Tell Harper: Defend Online Privacy. We're asking Stephen Harper to put in place effective legal measures to protect the privacy of every resident of Canada against warrantless online spying and we really hope you'll join us.

We need to speak up now and demand that Harper take responsibility for the actions of his government agencies and defend our privacy. Tell him we need modern, common-sense rules that keep government spiesout of our homes and out of our personal lives today.

The situation is truly irresponsible: We're talking about information that lends itself to abuse by cybercriminals, and reveals sensitive details about your online activities and life in general. What's worse, it looks like some telecoms are even building subscriber databases that law enforcement can access at will so this situation is set to get even worse unless we take action.

To add insult to injury, we -- the taxpayers -- are the ones being forced to foot the bill. We will be forced to pay millions to allow law enforcement organizations, government agencies, and others to access our information, while the government will spend billions to help house giant databases where much of our data will be stored.

This cannot stand and if enough of us send a message now it won't. It's time to tell Harper to take action and stop this reckless collection of our sensitive information. We deserve better than this.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.