Massive public-private information database project threatens privacy, civil liberties
By Jacob Anderson, Contributor
Not all conspiracies against the public are hidden, like those depicted in the television shows that our parents watched when they were kids, like The X-Files, and in old classic movies like The Matrix Reloaded; some of them are open and out there to be observed by anyone who cares to go out adventuring in search of them.
I recently became aware of a massive public-private information-gathering project that has apparently been going on for many years. The origins of this project are murky and not fully explained on Wikipedia, so I cannot fully explain them to you. What I can state, however, is this: I know, through first-hand knowledge, that private corporations have, in collaboration with our government, been allowed to compile a database of extremely personal information on many citizens and residents of Canada. Private information such as full names, contact information, and the locations of our homes have been recorded, catalogued, and made available without any appropriate safeguards being taken to protect our privacy. This is not conjecture or wild speculation: I have seen it with my own eyes.
Last Tuesday, my mother drove me home from band practice. As is my usual habit, I went to enter the house through the front door. When I walked towards the door, I observed an unusual object: a large book wrapped in plastic. I cannot state with certainty why the book was left for me: there was no note or other accompanying information. I can only conclude that some brave soul, perhaps aware of my four tweets in support of Edward Snowden as well as my Social Studies project on the same subject, had decided that this was information that the public simply must have and therefore, based on my strong record of support for civil liberties, provided me with an illicit copy of this information so that it might, in turn, be revealed to the public at large.
The copy of this database that I received covers only the city of Vancouver, but it contains information about tens of thousands of people. Imagine how this information might be abused, were it to fall into the wrong hands: identity theft on a massive scale, the harvesting of massive amounts of data for targeted direct marketing operations—it could facilitate the stalking and harassment of countless individuals.
I have attempted to provide an exact count of the number of names in the database, but the mathematical power required to multiply thousands by thousands would have required me to make use of computing equipment and, given the sensitivity of this disclosure, I felt it was not prudent to do so insofar as it is wholly possible that my own computers have been compromised and that the entry of such information into a computer might inadvertently disclose my possession of this information to others and allow them to act against me.
Some will ask why I would reveal the existence of such a treasure trove of sensitive information here; I simply feel that I have run out of other options. I have emailed the Prime Minister not once, but twice, demanding an explanation. He has chosen not to respond. I believe that only by shining daylight upon these shadowy operations can rogue corporations working in league with the government, such as this so-called “White Pages” company, be brought back under control.
I recognize that I have placed myself in both legal and physical jeopardy; therefore I have obtained a Student MasterCard in order to travel abroad. While I was not able to afford to escape by plane, I was able to obtain Greyhound tickets that will allow me to find refuge in “TX,” a suburb of Paris in France. I do this not because I hate my country, but rather because I love it and freedom everywhere. It is my hope that you will join me in this effort and that, together, one day, end the menace posed to all of us by the aggressive efforts of the multi-nationals.