Surveillance of indigenous human rights defender Cindy Blackstock in Canada

June 1, 2013

AI Canada informs that a report released on May 28 2013 in Canada by the federal Privacy Commissioner highlights a troubling pattern of invasive and unwarranted government surveillance of Canadian human rights defender Cindy Amnesty-InternationaBlackstock. Dr. Blackstock is the Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, a prominent non-governmental organization promoting equitable access to education, health care and other services for First Nations children. Government documents obtained by Dr. Blackstock show that two federal departments monitored her personal Facebook page, tracked people who posted to her page, and sent staff to take notes on her public presentations, all in an attempt to find information that might help the government fight a discrimination complaint that Dr. Blackstock’s organization is pursuing before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. The Privacy Commissioner concluded that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Department of Justice went too far in their online monitoring of Dr. Blackstock. According to the Privacy Commissioners report, senior officials overseeing government response to Tribunal case directed staff to collect screen shots of Dr. Blackstock’s personal Facebook page and circulate this material within the departments.  The Privacy Commissioner concluded, “By all indications, it was clear to officials in both departments that they were accessing and compiling information about the complainant personally.” The two departments have accepted the Commissioner’s recommendation to stop this monitoring and to destroy personal information that they have collected. Government monitoring of Dr. Blackstock began after her organization and the Assembly of First Nations filed a discrimination complaint under the Canadian Human Rights Act. The discrimination complaint, which is now before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, concerns the fact that year after year the federal government provides substantially less funding per child for child and family services in First Nations communities than the provincial governments provide for other children.

via Invasive surveillance of human rights defender Cindy Blackstock | Amnesty International Canada.


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