True free expression requires privacy

May 19, 2015
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
By David Christopher

“If I have nothing to hide, I have nothing to fear.” This is perhaps the most common reason people give for shrugging off stories about government intelligence agencies, like the National Security Agency (NSA) in the U.S. and the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) in Canada, spying on their own country’s citizens.

Of course, nothing is quite that simple. “If I have nothing to hide, I have nothing to fear” is based on a fundamentally false premise—that one needs to be doing something wrong in order to be placed under surveillance.

In fact, as NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has made clear, government spying activities are aimed at all of us. It takes no suspicion whatsoever to get trapped in the government’s surveillance dragnet—phone records are being spied on, private Internet activity is being monitored, and even private emails to MPs are being collected and stored in giant government databases.

All this with no reason for suspicion, often with no warrant, and with no independent or parliamentary oversight. Government assurances that CSE is restricted from spying on Canadians have not been borne out by the facts. CSE was recently revealed to be spying on up to 15 million Internet downloads a day, with Canadian IP addresses among the targets.

So there is clearly a great deal to fear about such widespread government intrusion into people’s private lives. Beyond the fact that nobody wants a government bureaucrat peering over our shoulders at what we say and do online, privacy underpins many other rights that are essential in any healthy democracy.

For example, without strong privacy safeguards, it becomes far more difficult, if not impossible, for people to exercise their human right to free expression. It is an established fact that when people believe they’re being watched, their behavior changes in very significant ways.

People who believe their words and activities are being monitored often become much less willing to speak out, express views outside the mainstream or publicly express dissent about the government. This is already happening on a huge scale. Privacy expert Bruce Schneier has calculated that more than 700 million people have changed their online behavior as a result of the NSA revelations. And PEN Internationalhas reported that over a quarter of writers have either avoided speaking on a topic they feared would subject them to surveillance, or seriously considered doing so.

So this is not a theoretical debate. The recent onslaught of government legislation—Bills C-51, C-13 and C-44—amount to a systematic evisceration of Canadians’ privacy rights and a sweeping expansion of the surveillance state, with dangerous consequences for freedom of expression.

Bill C-51, in particular, threatens to transform the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) into whatThe Globe and Mail has described as a “secret police” force in Canada.

This raises an important question: you may think you have “nothing to hide,” but what if the government’s secret police disagree? As professors Craig Forcese and Kent Roach have pointed out, Bill C-51 mandates CSIS to tackle vaguely defined “threats to the security of Canada”—and even authorizes the agency to take actions that contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other laws in order to do so. Forcese has also outlined how C-51’s new spy powers could be targeted at democratic protest movements, such as peaceful environmentalism.

Although CSIS will require a warrant for many of these activities, Bill C-51 will grant the agency warrantless access to extensive personal information about Canadians held by many government departments and agencies.

When challenged directly, the government has refused to explain why a bill supposedly aimed at “terrorists” would in fact ensnare law-abiding Canadians. It’s easy to see the chilling effect Bill C-51 could have on Canadians’ willingness to engage in the democratic process. As Jim Emberger of the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance says, “It has a chilling effect on the public. For instance … if I stand in front of a truck, or parade in front of a business, if I don’t know if that’s going to put me in jail with a criminal record for terrorism, I’m much less likely to voice my opinion or take part in public discourse.”

As more and more information comes to light, it’s clear that Canada faces an alarming, and widening, privacy deficit. This, in turn, has profound implications for free expression and a chilling effect on people’s willingness to speak out. It’s never been more important for people to work together to tackle this issue, before our democratic values are hollowed out yet further. You can learn more by visiting the Protect Our Privacy Coalition at

David Christopher (@dchristopher_bc) is the communications manager for OpenMedia, which safeguards the possibilities of the open Internet.

This piece was originally published in CJFE’s 2014-15 Review of Free Expression in Canada.

What do you think?

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Nicole Morris
    commented 2022-06-22 16:54:59 -0400
    I ordered a job spell on a Friday night and on Monday the place I applied for a job called for me to come by their office. They gave me the job I applied for and made me an offer of more per hour than I have ever made in my life! I am so happy! Government jobs sometimes are a slow process. You somehow managed to speed up that process, and I start in just a few days! DR EMU I will be forever grateful thanks once again. You can call on him for help on his email address [email protected] or add him up on his WhatsApp +2347012841542. DR EMU also lent a helping hand to the following } 1. GETTING YOUR EX LOVER BACK. 2. WINNING LOTTERIES. 3. CHILD BEARING. 4. BREAKING OF GENERATION COURSE. 5. GETTING OF JOB. 6. JOB PROMOTION. 7. HERBAL CARE. 8. SPIRITUAL PROTECTION. 9. HERBAL CARE. 10. SPIRITUAL PRAYER. E.T.C.
  • Brittany Dustin
    commented 2021-12-29 04:28:32 -0500
    GET RICH WITH BLANK ATM CARD … Whatsapp: +18033921735

    I want to testify about Dark Web blank atm cards which can withdraw money from any atm machines around the world. I was very poor before and have no job. I saw so many testimony about how Dark Web Cyber hackers send them the atm blank card and use it to collect money in any atm machine and become rich.( [email protected] ) I email them also and they sent me the blank atm card. I have use it to get 250,000 dollars. withdraw the maximum of 5,000 USD daily. Dark Web is giving out the card just to help the poor. Hack and take money directly from any atm machine vault with the use of atm programmed card which runs in automatic mode.

    You can also contact them for the service below
    • Western Union Transfer Hack
    • Bank Transfer Hack
    • PayPal / Skrill Transfer Hack
    • Crypto Mining Hack
    • CashApp Transfer Hack

    Email: [email protected] OR [email protected]

    Text & Call or WhatsApp: +18033921735

  • Domisa Bells
    commented 2021-07-15 00:44:59 -0400
    DR. JOROMI IS TRULY A POWERFUL MAN. Contacting Dr Joromi is the best thing that has ever happened to me. My husband left me for another woman for the reason which i know nothing about. I tried every means to get him back but to no avail, all my efforts proved abortive. I was even contemplating suicide. On a lucky day when i was browsing the internet, i came across some amazing testimonies about Dr. Joromi on how he has helped a lot of people with his powerful love spells. I contacted him and explained all my problems to him and he assured me that he will help me. He told me what to do and assured me that my man will be back in 12 hours. I obeyed him and followed the instructions and to my Greatest surprise, my man called me in 12 hours time just as Dr. Joromi said. Thank you Dr Joromi. May the good God continue to bless you. If you are in need of help please contact Dr Joromi now on his website: and you can also reach him with his email: [email protected] and here is his WhatsApp number which you can also use to reach him +2348138695387 Thank you Dr Joromi. Thank you once again
  • Sharon Elizabeth
    commented 2021-06-20 17:15:15 -0400

    Effective love Spell caster who can help you bring back your ex lover & save your marriage fast contact: ([email protected]) is certainly the best spell caster online and her result is 100% guarantee!. My Name Sharon Elizabeth form NY, USA. After 9years of my marriage, me and my husband has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me and moved to California to be with another woman. I felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. I tried to be strong just for the kids but I could not control the pains that torment my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because I was really in love with my husband. Every day and night I think of him and always wish he would come back to me, I was really upset and I needed help, so I searched for help online and I came across a website that suggested that Dr.Noruwa can help get ex lover back fast. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted her and she told me what to do and I did it then she did a (Love spell) for me. 28 hours later, my husband really called me and told me that he miss me and the kids so much, So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day, with lots of love and joy, and he apologized for his mistake, and for the pain he caused me and the kids. Then from that day, our Marriage was now stronger than how it was before, all thanks to Dr.Noruwa. she is so powerful and I decided to share my story on the internet that Dr.Noruwa is real and powerful spell caster who I will always pray to live long to help everyone in the time of trouble, if you are here and you need your Ex back or your husband moved to another woman, do not cry anymore, contact this powerful spell caster now. Here is her contact to chat her on Telegram/ WhatsApp: +1(562)774-3626 ,Email him at: ([email protected])