BY GLEN MCGREGOR, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN SEPTEMBER 24, 2012
"OTTAWA — An email extolling the Conservative government’s record on gay rights has some recipients wondering how Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney knows their sexual orientation.In the mid seventies, my cutting edge small business computer used 8" floppy disks, each with ¼-megabyte of data capacity. Later, we added a 10MB hard drive. The cost of adding this "massive" data storage, in 2012 dollars: $3-million per gigabyte. Recently, I bought a 32GB microSD card for a digital audio player. The cost of data storage in 2012 dollars: $1.10 per gigabyte.
"The email from Kenney’s MP’s office sent Friday trumpets the Conservative government’s initiative to help gay and lesbian refugees..."
Information is collected and stored today with few costs incurred by the gatherers. That's fine if they're digitizing and circulating significant literary works, not so great if they're accumulating private life details on every citizen in the nation.
Last week, chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand was interviewed by The Canadian Press about personal information collected by Canada's political parties.
"What's been a surprise to me so far is how easy it can be misused. That, I think, has not been foreseen in these cases.Mayrand's investigators are looking at uses and misuses of the government party's Constituent Information Management System. That Conservatives collect detailed files on individual voters must stimulate at least a twinge of discomfort in Stephen Harper's soul, if he still has one.
"We know also that parties are gathering a fair bit of information to target their activities toward various demographic groups. But again, little is known about how this information is gathered, how long it's retained, what happens when there's a breach ... what level of security does exist around access to this information, is it used only for the purpose of election campaigning?
"Generally, the data collected by parties is not subject to privacy legislation..."
Harper's roots are libertarian so vast collections of personal data ought to be anathema to him. Of course, as an opposition member, he spoke strongly against the Liberal government's use of omnibus bills. Now, Harper's gang is in love with kitchen sink legislation that minimizes debate and prevents scrutiny of Conservative lawmaking.
I wonder if Harper was a hypocrite from the start or if he ultimately succumbed to the lure of high office and is guided now by a single autocratic goal: stay in power.
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