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The Risks and Implications of ‘Incidental’ Government Surveillance

March 1, 2017

6:00pm - 7:00pm

Canadian law enforcement and security services are moving to adopt mass surveillance techniques that involve monitoring large numbers of persons to target just a handful of suspects or alleged criminals. Such techniques can involve compiling large volumes of information from telecommunications providers, utilizing technologies to monitor all cell phones close to specialized surveillance equipment, or broadly monitoring the 'metadata' traffic of Canadians. Information received by authorities may be retained indefinitely or secretly used in ways that those affected may oppose. Dr. Christopher Parsons, Managing Director of the Telecom Transparency Project and Research Associate at the Citizen Lab of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto will talk about mass surveillance techniques adopted by Canadian law enforcement, intelligence, and security services. His research focuses on the privacy, security, and political implications of third-party access to telecommunications data. After unpacking a few of these techniques, Dr. Parsons will outline how each mode of surveillance carries with it unique risks to those affected: the surveillance by local and federal police differs from that undertaken by intelligence services, and that undertaken by security services. Such risks may be localized to either individuals or communities but, in aggregate, raise fundamental challenges to how our society has envisioned policing and security activities. The talk concludes by asking: what are the implications of conducting mass surveillance of the innocent in the pursuit of detecting or investigating potential suspects or criminals? Presented as part of Freedom to Read Week.

Lillian H. Smith, Toronto Public Library
239 College Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1R5
Toronto, Ontario



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