RCMP Commissioner on the Wrong Track.

Written by Harold McNeill on November 28th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


rcmp-commissioner-bob-paulson-warrantless-subscriber-info-20151125

Ottawa (November 25, 2015): With a look and tone of concern, Commission Bob Paulson
spoke at a recent Security and Defence Conference in Ottawa about dangers posed when accessing the Internet. (Reference, Ottawa Citizen Article)
This post will consider whether comments made by the Commissioner  are valid or whether they were just more fear-mongering as tends to be his pattern.  The post will also make comparisons between Cyber Crime and Street Crime as a means to put some perspective around his warnings of approaching danger.

(Note: As usual over the first few days, as I reread the post looking for errors and omissions, I continue to make changes that help make for a better read. In addition, when I first learn about something like this (his comments at the conference) it drives me to respond as the suggestions drive another nail to the core of our democracy. It makes me wonder what in world was he thinking and why does he try to drive such fear? He should know better (he’s the Commissioner of the RCMP after all), but no, he chooses instead to drive fear.   Thanks for staying with me.  Cheers, Harold)

Cyber Crime

After reading various articles about the Commissioner’s most recent concerns and his suggestions on how to meet the challenge posed by what he claims is a lack in Internet Security, it seems he has gone a step to far. While he has always been a master at fear-mongering about all things involving domestic and PoliticsOfFearnational security, it seem that having lost his comrades in fear, Stephen HarperVic Toews and a dozen others with whom he shared a common interest, has pushed him over the edge as he see’s himself and the force as the last bastion of protection against all things evil in the world?

While terrorism and dangers of an attack has long been a subject close to his heart, it now seems the Commissioner now making dire warnings about the dangers lurking in cyberspace. While most would agree that caution is the watchword when surfing the web for shopping and entertainment or any of hundreds of other uses, the Commissioner has suddenly pushed the danger level to Code Red.

Following is a sprinkling of his words of warning as reported by the Ottawa Citizen (Italicized comments are from the Ottawa Citizen unless otherwise identified):

Your safety, your family’s safety, your financial integrity is at risk and so we need to start having the conversation now”.

Of course that conversation is about why giving the police sweeping new powers to conduct warrantless facebook privacysearches and the collection evidence – mainly personal information – from online sources, including basic subscriber data from telecommunication companies, is a good thing (from his perspective).

Perhaps it is also a warning that Bill C-51 did not go far enough for the Commissioner and  this is his way of attempting to shield Bill C-51 and other Bills from being rolled back or scrapped by the current government.  Without his friends and mentors Stephen and Vic covering his back, the Commissioner must be feeling pretty vulnerable.

Cartoon (Web Source):  A look inside the mind of the Commissioner of the RCMP. Safety for the Commissioner is a bug in every home and a tap on every phone and high speed internet line. (For a full discussion of how other Commissioners have handled matters of Domestic and National Security, check out “Oversight of Police and Security Services“).   There is also a good ten minute video on the subject by Jacob Appelbaum titled: “We Need More, No Less Democracy.”

The Commissioner continues with his list of fears:

That is where we need to take this conversation, to say ‘We can’t have people exploiting our citizens to the extent that they do.’ Children in the child exploitation world are being hurt at a pace and a frequency that is alarming,” he said. “People can encrypt their communications and they can exploit children for sexual purposes and it’s a little harder to get at them from a police point of view.”

No one will deny that exploitation can and does take place through Internet connections, but is the level of threat commensurate with the warnings being given by the Commissioner?

I don’t think so as this would take us back to the time of Vic Toews and his “if you are not with us you are with the pedophiles.”  Personally, I always liked the comparisons Victor made as it gave him a niche to speak out in a way that made his own party members cringe whenever he stepped to the podium.  It appears the Commissioner was one of Vic’s most valued students of the art of fear-mongering.

Now more from the Commissioner on Internet Security:

Because fundamentally, ladies and gentlemen, it’s hard to keep people safe on the Internet right now. The best advice we can give people is, ‘Don’t go (on the Internet),’ which is not really working, or ‘If you go, be really, really, really careful.’  “And if something bad happens, hopefully we’ll be able to help you, but there’s no guarantee.”

What? Don’t go on the Internet?”  What is the mindset of the leader of Canada’s largest police force who thinks dropping off the Internet is a viable solution?  Well, he doesn’t stop there:

“I’m all for warrantless access to subscriber info,” said Paulson. “If I had to get a judge on the phone every time I wanted to run a licence plate when I was doing my policing, there wouldn’t have been much policing getting done.”

“Criminals, he said, are now live streaming child sexual assaults being committed in order to avoid leaving digital evidence on the web. Billions of dollars of criminal proceeds are laundered through the Internet. Multi-national criminal organizations are effectively running their affairs on the Internet. There are countless bank frauds, identity thefts, credit-card frauds, extortions, sextortions, drug trafficking and more.”

Billions of dollars in criminal proceeds?  Organized crime? Countless frauds, identity thefts and so. More will be said on this below as we put a perspective around the some 9000 cases reported each year. He continues:

“That is where we need to take this conversation, to say ‘We can’t have people exploiting our citizens to the extent that they do.’ Children in the child exploitation world are being hurt at a pace and a frequency that is alarming,” he said. “People can encrypt their communications and they can exploit children for sexual purposes and it’s a little harder to get at them from a police point of view.”

Not satisfied to leave it at that, the Commission went on about how people are happy to take off their85792_600 cloths, have their bodies scanned and to be subjected to other “security” measures at the airport because they know it’s for their own good.

Cartoon (Web Source – unable to make out the name of the cartoonist)

To make sure everyone understood he made a detour back to his early career patrolling the streets of a small community in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia:

“I couldn’t keep those people safe if I didn’t know who they are, if they went about their business day in and day out with masks on, or driving vehicles with licence plates covered up, or leaving phone numbers that could never be looked up, or living in houses that didn’t have addresses, on streets without names, I couldn’t do the job of policing in that context.”

While there may be some relevant connections to bygone days, those connections would be tenuous at best.   Take a look at the Oversight of Police and Security Services article, particularly Section 4, to get some inkling of what happened when police were given unfettered access to information about suspects, situations and locations.  As the Commissioner left the stage it was clear to all he was overwrought and as he walked by he was heard to be mumbling something about Black Friday being some kind of ISIS plot to destabilize the economies of the Western World.  His handlers hustled him through a back door and into the back of a black SUV.

Adding Perspective

For those of you who think the Internet is as dangerous as the Commissioner would have you believe, perhaps moving back to books and a hard copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica would be a good option, but before you take the step, consider the following statistics taken from a 2012 report on Cyber Crime (the most recent I could quickly find):

In that year there were 9,084 reported incidents of cybercrime with fraud accounting for just over 4900 cases. The next largest number was intimidation (I assume that involved bullying and other threats of violence) with 1800 cases.  The final 1635 cases involved sexual cyber-related violations.

While cybercrime happens in many forms, 9000 cases among a population of 35,000,000, many of whom, like myself, are heavy users of the Internet, is not an extraordinarily high number by any measure.

How does this number stack up against other crimes being committed in Canada. The following numbers include the 9,000 cases of cyber crime. The following are 2014 Crime Statistics (note, I have not yet learned how to introduce columns and tables in WP):

Total Crimes in Canada          1,923,039

Total Violent Crimes                 369,359
Property Crimes                      1,100,403

Violent Crime (sample types and numbers)

Sexual Assault                      21,000
Assault                                 212,735
Robbery                                 21,000
Criminal Harassment         19,600
Uttering Threats                  62,300
Other Violence                      31,000

Property Crimes (sample types and numbers)

Break and Enter                   151,900
Theft of Vehicle                     73,000
Theft Over $5000                 13,200
Theft Under $5000            474,800
Mischief                                264,800

While Canadians are certainly victimized by a significant number of invasive crimes, by comparison to the United States and many other countries, we are an extremely peaceful nation. We don’t walk the streets in daily fear of a crime being visited upon us, that is unless we were supporters of Stephen Harper and Vic Toews view of the world.

Now what about this dire situation involving Cyber Crime of which the Commissioner is warning us?  If he is serious about having people steer well clear of the Internet, he might also decide to warn Canadians to stay at home and lock their doors as evidence suggests the vast majority of crimes in Canada (a full 99.5%) is being committed in the wide open spaces of cities, towns and rural communities in which people actually live and work, and not in cyber space.

As we hear more fear mongering coming from the lips of the leader of Canada’s largest and most storied police force, I gives thanks the rank and file of that force are out there doing their job of protecting the homes, businesses and streets of the communities they serve. Meanwhile, it seems the Commissioner remains intent on looking for demons under every stone.  The sooner the current government can replace the man and others of the old guard who supported similar ideas, the sooner we can get back to the business of creating a better country and world.

Harold

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    August 21, 2019 |

    For those who followed the earlier post about the cost of ICBC Auto insurance coverage in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (linked in comments) here is another follow-up article.

    This article again confirms earlier assertions that public-private insurers such as that which ICBC provides, is among the best in Canada in terms of rates and coverage. A link is provided in the original story.

  • Harold McNeill

    August 16, 2019 |

    Many thanks for reviewing the article Elizabeth. There are so many areas of our society in which populism carries the day, although I think what is happening with the ICBC is that groups having a vested interest in private insurance would dearly love to dislodge ICBC from their preferred position. That being said, I think was a good move to have only portions of the insurance coverage in BC being held by ICBC and other portions being made available through private enterprise.

  • Elizabeth Mary McInnes, CAIB

    August 15, 2019 |

    It’s a breath of fresh air to see a resident of British Columbia look to review all the facts over believing what is reported in the news or just following along with the negative stigma of the masses. Your article truly showcases that with a little reform to ICBC’s provincial system – British Columbia could be a true leader for other provinces in Canada. Very well written article!

  • Harold McNeill

    August 13, 2019 |

    August 13, 2019. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), a private enterprise group not unlike the Fraser Institute, is again on the campaign trail. They state ICBC rates are the highest in Canada, but, thankfully, Global BC inserted a section indicating the Insurance Bureau cherry-picked the highest number in BC and the lowest numbers in AB, ON and other Eastern Provinces. If you take a few minutes to check reliable sources you will find BC rates, are the lowest in Canada.

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.