07 February 2003
Doh!! And I mispelled the man's name, too, in the last post. That's what I get for sending before proofreading. The name should be George Radwanski. Sheesh.
7:12:57 AM  #   your two cents []
Whoops -- I put in punctuation that caused my excerpt from my story on George Radnowski (see below) to go AWOL. Here it is:

Last week, in his annual report to the Canadian government, which employs him, he wrote: "Regrettably, this government has lost its moral compass with regard to the fundamental human right of privacy.

"It is my duty, in this annual report, to present a solemn and urgent warning to every member of parliament and senator, and indeed to every Canadian.

"The fundamental human right of privacy in Canada is under assault as never before. Unless the government of Canada is quickly dissuaded from its present course by parliamentary action and public insistence, we are on a path that may well lead to the permanent loss not only of privacy rights that we take for granted but also of important elements of freedom as we now know it."

In this fierce defence of privacy as a fundamental right that underlies all other freedoms in a democracy, he argues that the Canadian government "is, quite simply, using September 11th as an excuse for new collections and uses of personal information about all of us Canadians that cannot be justified by the requirements of anti-terrorism and that, indeed, have no place in a free and democratic society."

Standing before a group of UCD students this week, on a visit to the Republic wedged in between the launch of his report last week and an address to the Canadian parliament yesterday, he said: "There can be no real freedom without privacy. Privacy is the right from which all other freedoms flow.

"That's why a lack of privacy distinguishes so many totalitarian societies."
7:02:38 AM  #   your two cents []

If you subscribe to Ireland.com, you can read an interview I did this week with George Radwanski, Canada's Data Privacy Commissioner, who was in Ireland for a few days. He published an amazingly blunt condemnation of the Canadian government in his annual report (http://www.privcom.gc.ca/information/ar/02_04_10_e.asp#overview) last week for Canada's attempt to introduce data retention and surveillance proposals that, as in many other countries, threaten to turn democracies into surveillance states. His report got quite a bit of linkage on the net and from blogs. Here is a bit from my story on him:


The rest of my story is here: http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/finance/2003/0207/1381759710BWRADWANSKI.html

I'll make it freely available on this site next week, when I return from California.

And next week, I'll also have something to say in my Friday 'Net Results' column about the extraordinary letter the Department of Justice sent out this week to various parties. According to the letter, the Department will hold a preliminary forum to 'initiate' a consultation process on its proposed three-year data retention bill (see my privacy archives button in the left-hand column for details on that grim little piece of legislation). The forum begins at 3pm -- clearly making sure no long and unruly discussions will develop! -- and starts with a 20-minute address by the Minister, followed by a 20-minute address by the Dept of Communications on the 1997 EU Data Privacy Directive (which, BTW, Ireland STILL has not implemented despite being under legal threat by the EU -- and note that there's no mention of the far more crucial 2002 amended Directive, voted in last May by a spineless and ill-informed EU Parliament, which allows for up to SEVEN YEARS data retention.

*** Then -- and this is the amazing bit -- attendees get a 20 minute pep talk by An Garda Siochana [the Irish police force] "on the contribution of data retention in the fight against crime." ***

When you pick yourself up off the floor, remind yourself that this is the Irish government's formal initiation of a purported public discussion on data retention -- brought to you by the Irish police. Amazing. You'd have thought they'd at least *pretend* to be balanced and disinterested, and perhaps ask Joe Meade, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, to contribute as well.

Interestingly, Radwanski had a meeting with the Justice Minister Michael McDowell while he was here. Oh to have been a fly on the wall...

The Department of Justice itself should have nothing whatsoever to do with ANY consultation process on this proposed bill. Instead, as in the UK, an independent Dail group should hold hearings and get public input into this. If you're Irish, I strongly recomment letting your TD [member of Irish parliament, for the non-Irish readers!] know how you feel on this subject, as well as the Minister.
6:52:20 AM  #   your two cents []