Just as we’re (finally) having something of a debate in the US about at least rolling back some of the worst aspects of the PATRIOT Act and the surveillance state (though, not nearly enough), it appears that both France and Canada are moving in the other direction. In France, they’re using the Charlie Hebdo attacks as an excuse for a massive surveillance expansion, that not only will lead to the government collecting and sifting through much more information, but with less oversight:
At a moment when American lawmakers are reconsidering the broad surveillance powers assumed by the government after Sept. 11, the lower house of the French Parliament took a long stride in the opposite direction Tuesday, overwhelmingly approving a bill that could give authorities their most intrusive domestic spying abilities ever, with almost no judicial oversight.
The bill, in the works since last year, now goes to the Senate, where it seems likely to pass, having been given new impetus in reaction to the terrorist attacks in and around Paris in January, including at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and at a kosher grocery, that left 17 people dead.
And then we see Canada doing the same thing:
Widespread protest and souring public opinion has failed to prevent Canada’s ruling Conservative Party from pushing forward with sweeping anti-terror legislation which a battery of legal scholars, civil liberties groups, opposition politicians and pundits of every persuasion say will replace the country’s healthy democracy with a creeping police state.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is looking forward to an easy victory on Tuesday when the House of Commons votes in its final debate on the bill, known as C-51. But lingering public anger over the legislation suggests that his success in dividing his parliamentary opposition may well work against him when Canadians go to the polls for a national election this fall.
Despite widespread protests and concerns about both laws, the governments in both countries are just pushing forward , spreading FUD left and right to try to paper over why they need to absolutely destroy the privacy rights of the public. It appears that governments around the globe are seeing world events as a convenient excuse to ratchet up their own power, while taking away frights from citizens. In both countries, leaders supporting these measures talk about ISIS and “jihadi terrorism” and completely dismiss the complaints about a lack of oversight. However, in both cases, what little oversight there is of the new surveillance capabilities is very much of the rubber stamp variety. First, in France:
The only judicial oversight is a provision that allows the commission to lodge a complaint with the Council of State, but lawyers are dubious that they could be convened on a routine basis. The Council of State functions as a legal adviser to the executive branch of government and a supreme court for matters of administrative law.
And then in Canada:
Critics of the legislation say the imminent law gives Canadian spies sweeping new powers to investigate and disrupt broadly defined threats to public safety, with language that makes no distinction between terrorist plots and legitimate political protests and demonstrations. At the same time, it neglects to provide any increased oversight of the country’s vastly empowered chief spy agency, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service.
Whatever happened to countries that respected liberty and freedom?