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

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    February 16, 2020 |

    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]

  • Harold McNeill

    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

    I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    January 5, 2020 |

    […] 28. The past as a guide to the future (Part III): Over the past 60 years, many activities the police once performed as a natural part of their daily duty, eventually became incompatible with achieving their basic goals. What happened? (August 2019) […]

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    […] During the Ice Age, the Earth’s average temperature was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it is today. That was enough to keep snow from melting during the summers in northern regions. As snow fell on the snow, glaciers formed. (NASA Earth Observatory) […]

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    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]