News from ICLMG

What we’ve been up to so far in 2020! Help us continue protecting civil liberties

The first half of 2020 has been very difficult given the impact of the pandemic, but we continued working hard to protect our civil liberties. Below you can see what we have accomplished so far this year, but first here is a sneak-peek into what we plan to do for the second half of 2020:

  • We will continue to protect our civil liberties and human rights against the threat of digital surveillance in the response to COVID-19, as well as the growing dangers of facial recognition technology.
  • We will continue to fight to abolish security certificates and end deportation to torture. Central to this is our work to stop Mohamed Harkat’s deportation to torture.
  • We will continue to monitor the implementation of the National Security Act, 2017 (formerly Bill C-59), especially around mass surveillance and immunity for CSIS employees.
  • We will continue to push for greater accountability and transparency for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), including the establishment of a strong, effective and independent review mechanism.
  • We will continue advocating for the repeal of the Canadian No Fly List, and for putting a stop to the use of the US No Fly List by air carriers in Canada for flights that do not land in or fly over the US.
  • We will continue to call for justice for Dr. Hassan Diab and for the reform of the Extradition Act.
  • We will continue to pressure lawmakers to protect our civil liberties from the negative impact of national security and the “war on terror”, as well as keeping you and our 47 member organizations, informed via the News Digest.

Help us achieve our goals!


What we’ve been up to from January to July 2020!

Fighting COVID-19: Seven Principles to Protect Our Privacy COVID-19 and digital surveillance
  • We co-wrote a statement listing our seven principles, launched a letter-writing campaign, and created a video to protect our rights if digital surveillance is used to fight COVID.
  • We met with the Justice Minister to discuss our principles.
  • We helped draft an open letter calling on the federal government to delay the release of a national contact tracing app as the Privacy Commissioner should examine it first. The app’s release was delayed and no new date has been set.
  • We participated in an online panel on pandemics and civil liberties.
  • We’ve added our voice to 300 organizations and individuals to call on all levels of government to strengthen human rights oversight amid the pandemic.

Letter to the Minister of Public Safety: Ban Facial Recognition Surveillance

The ICLMG, 30 other organizations and 46 individuals, all active in protecting privacy, human rights and civil liberties, issued a call for the federal government to ban the use of facial recognition surveillance by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the RCMP.
Facial recognition surveillance is invasive and inaccurate. This unregulated technology poses a threat to the fundamental rights of people in Canada. See the full letter, addressed to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, and list of signatories here.

We need your help to continue fighting for justice and human rights!

Yasser Albaz is finally back in Canada!

Canadian Yasser Albaz spent 16 months without charge and in awful conditions in an Egyptian prison. Alongside his daughter, his wife, numerous individual supporters, NCCM and Amnesty International, ICLMG campaigned for his safe return home. Our National Coordinator, Tim McSorley, spoke at a press conference before the Foreign Affairs Minister’s visit to Egypt, and at recent rally in front of the Prime Minister’s office.

Stop the deportation to torture of Moe Harkat!

We continued our advocacy for Mohamed Harkat’s rights and life:
  • We sent a joint letter to the Public Safety Minister & rallied at his office.
  • 4000 more letters have been sent to the Minister urging him to let Mr. Harkat’s stay in Canada.
  • We met with MP Paul Manly and Green Party caucus staff, resulting in a letter to the Public Safety Minister.
  • We presented on security certificates and inadmissibility to a law class at the University of Windsor.

Criminalization and silencing of dissent

  • We co-organized & moderated a book launch on the targeting of anti-poverty groups by national security agencies in the 1960s & ’70s, which was live-streamed.
  • We issued a statement condemning the RCMP invasion of Wet’suwet’en territory, the use of national security concerns to criminalize land defenders, and the suppression of freedom of the press.

We published the News Digest

We continue to publish our now bi-monthly News Digest, which all of you receive and is distributed to thousands of people every two weeks. Check out the News Digest archive if you’ve missed some of our issues.
If you know anyone interested in national security and/or human rights, send them an invite to sign up!
Our parliamentary work
  • We monitored the implementation of the National Security Act, 2017 (Bill C-59).
  • We lobbied and strategized around Bill C-3, which would create an independent review body for the CBSA.
  • We had several meetings with lawmakers including the Policy Director for the Public Safety Minister.
  • We were invited to meet with the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.
  • With other groups, we’ve sent a letter to the Prime Minister & filed access to information requests regarding the return of Canadians detained in North-East Syria.
… and more!
  • The Big Data Surveillance Project book we contributed a chapter to will come out in Fall 2020 and we are contributing to plans for the project’s final conference, to be held in Ottawa in 2021.
  • We participated in the Green Square campaign to mark the anniversary of the horrific attack on the Centre culturel Islamique de Québec.
  • We participated in three civil society roundtables with staff of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
  • We presented to the National Security Transparency Advisory Group.
  • We are in regular contact with the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency.
  • Our National Coordinator gave several media interviews.
  • Our social media accounts and live-streams reached tens of thousands.

If you think our work is important, please support the ICLMG!

We do not receive any funding from any federal, provincial or municipal governments or political parties so your support is essential to our work.

We are counting on people like you.

Thank you for your support in protecting civil liberties!

— Anne & Tim

PS: For what we were up to in the second half of 2019, click here!

PPS: For what we’ve been up to since ICLMG was created in 2002, check out our Achievements page!

Open Letter: Canadian Government Must Ban Use of Facial Recognition by Federal Law Enforcement, Intelligence Agencies

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Today, the ICLMG, OpenMedia and 29 organizations and 46 individuals, all active in protecting privacy, human rights and civil liberties, issued a call for the federal government to enact an immediate ban the use of facial recognition surveillance by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the RCMP.

The full letter, addressed to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, and list of signatories is below, and available here [PDF].

Facial recognition surveillance is invasive and inaccurate. This unregulated technology poses a threat to the fundamental rights of people in Canada.

Studies have shown the racial biases in facial recognition surveillance, with leading technology mis-identifying Black, Asian and Indigenous faces 10 to 100 times more than white faces. As the letter points out, at a time when society is pushing to address systemic racism in policing, adopting a technology that is known for its racial biases is a move in the wrong direction.

Even if these biases could be addressed, though, the dangers posed by facial recognition surveillance to our rights would persist. Facial recognition surveillance undermines our freedoms of association, assembly, expression and movement, as well as the right to privacy and protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

Canada’s existing privacy laws do not regulate biometrics, including facial recognition, allowing the technology to be adopted by police forces across the country without any oversight or clear rules. For example, the RCMP has used the highly controversial Clearview AI facial recognition technology without consulting the Privacy Commissioner or issuing a Privacy Impact Assessment. The federal police force went so far as to publicly deny its use of Clearview AI’s technology, when it had actually been operating it for several months.

Along with the ban on the use of facial recognition surveillance by law enforcement and intelligence agencies at the federal level, the signatories are also calling on the government to:

  • Initiate a meaningful, public consultation on all aspects of facial recognition technology in Canada;
  • Establish clear and transparent policies and laws regulating the use of facial recognition in Canada, including reforms to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and the Privacy Act.

Even with a federal ban on facial recognition surveillance in place, it will be crucial to establish limits around other uses of facial recognition at all levels of government. For example, provinces and municipalities must act to halt the use of facial recognition by local and regional law enforcement.

Other jurisdictions are recognizing the dangers of facial recognition technology, with several US cities banning its use by law enforcement. Even companies that produce the technology have been forced to recognize its dangerous nature, with many halting sales to law enforcement. In Canada, the federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner is investigating the RCMP’s use of facial recognition technology, and OpenMedia has launched a petition calling for a country-wide ban on the use of facial recognition surveillance by law enforcement. You can take action here.

The federal government has the opportunity to be a leader on this issue by taking a firm stance on facial recognition surveillance. Minister Blair must enact a ban on its use now, before we see more harm done.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. Here at ICLMG, we are working very hard to protect and promote human rights and civil liberties in the context of the so-called “war on terror” in Canada. We do not receive any financial support from any federal, provincial or municipal governments or political parties. You can become our patron on Patreon and get rewards in exchange for your support. You can give as little as $1/month (that’s only $12/year!) and you can unsubscribe at any time. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.panel-54141172-image-6fa93d06d6081076-320-320You can also make a one-time donation or donate monthly via Paypal by clicking on the button below. On the fence about giving? Check out our Achievements and Gains since we were created in 2002. Thank you for your generosity!
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Prime Minister Trudeau Must Take Decisive Action to Bring Yasser Albaz Home

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Yasser Albaz, a Canadian, has been imprisoned without charge in Egypt’s notorious Torah prison for 16 months. The Egyptian government has given no reason for his detention, and his continued imprisonment is a grave violation of his most fundamental human rights. This is without even considering that COVID-19 is spreading throughout the prison, and Yasser has been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms for the past several days.

The ICLMG is joining his family and thousands across Canada calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to take action at the highest level to bring Yasser Albaz home. You can take action at www.freeyasser.ca.

Below is the statement delivered by Tim McSorley, ICLMG National Coordinator, at the rally to bring Yasser Albaz home in front of the Prime Minister’s office on June 17, 2020.

You can also watch it here.


“Thank you everyone for being here, and thank you to Amal, Safaa and the Albaz family for inviting me to join them here today.

My name is Tim McSorley, I’m the national coordinator with the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. I’m here today on behalf of our 47 member organizations – faith based, labour, social justice, environmental groups – to say enough is enough, Yasser Albaz must come home to Canada, and Prime Minister Trudeau needs to make it happen.

Sixteen months ago, in February 2019, we were informed about Yasser’s imprisonment. We’ve added our voice ever since in order to denounce his indefinite, illegal imprisonment in Egypt and to demand that the Canadian government take all action necessary to bring him home. We had seen this before with other Canadians. We knew the terrible conditions of Torah prison, and we spoke out with others calling for the government to act. We hoped against hope that Yasser would be home soon.

It is unacceptable and shameful that 16 months later, Yasser remains in prison in Egypt.

And it’s important to be clear: he was arrested without charge. He has never been charged. His ongoing and indefinite imprisonment is illegal, violating his most fundamental human rights and in violation of international law.

It is the responsibility of the Canadian government to defend the rights of its citizens, especially those held in such dangerous and illegal conditions as Yasser is facing right now.

And this is all without even considering the new urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic and Yasser’s deteriorating health. So far, Canada has repatriated 40,000 Canadians back to our country. But Yasser remains in prison.

Prime Minister Trudeau has said that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian and stated that no Canadian should ever be subjected to cruel, inhumane punishment. And we should be clear: the conditions that Yasser is held in would be considered inhumane by anyone in the country.

Yasser deserves the same protections as everyone else. Prime Minister Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Champagne must act now.

Father’s Day is this weekend. I can’t imagine how I would feel if my father was imprisoned, his life under threat, in another country. Amal and her family shouldn’t have to spend another father’s day without their dad. Please go on their site, FreeYasser.ca, look them up on Facebook, and send your own message to Prime Minister Trudeau and to your MPs demanding that they bring Yasser home.”

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