TORONTO, Jan. 17, 2014 /CNW/ - With Barack Obama due to announce reforms
to the National Security Agency (NSA) today, PEN Canada calls on Prime
Minister Stephen Harper to break his ongoing silence on the topic of
online surveillance conducted by the Canadian government.
"Thanks to the release of information by Edward Snowden, we now know
beyond a shadow of a doubt that the American government has been spying
on its own citizens and those of many other countries, including those
whom it considered allies," said William Kowalski, chairman of the
National Affairs Committee of PEN Canada. "This includes Canadian
citizens. And we also know that the information obtained by the NSA has
been shared with the Canadian authorities, and vice-versa."
The Snowden revelations confirmed the existence of an
information-sharing agreement that exists between the National Security
Administration of the United States and the Communications Security
Establishment of Canada (CSEC). This agreement allows both governments
to obtain intelligence about their own citizens from each other without
warrants, therefore circumventing laws that prohibit them from spying
upon their own people.
"None of this is speculation," said Philip Slayton, president of PEN
Canada. "The facts have been out there for months. Given the disturbing
nature of what has been revealed, we find silence by the Prime Minister
on this issue to be inadequate. The Canadian people should know to what
extent they have been spied upon and why. The U.N. has said it loud and
clear - privacy is a human right."
PEN Canada believes that gathering data on Canadian citizens without any
accusation of wrongdoing or reasonable cause for suspicion violates
Sections 7 and 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantee
the right to security of the person and the right to be secure against
unreasonable search and seizure. "This dragnet-style approach sets a
dangerous precedent and reflects an undisciplined protocol," said
The link between freedom of expression and privacy is clear. In his
April 2013 report, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and
protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La
Rue, confirmed, "Privacy and freedom of expression are interlinked and
mutually dependent; an infringement upon one can be both the cause and
consequence of an infringement upon the other."
PEN Canada is a nonpartisan organization of writers that works with others to
defend freedom of expression as a basic human right at home and abroad.
PEN Canada promotes literature, fights censorship, helps free
persecuted writers from prison, and assists writers living in exile in
SOURCE: PEN Canada
For further information:
Juanita Bawagan, PEN Canada, JBawagan@pencanada.ca, 416-703-8448 ext. 21