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The (unofficial) blog of the BCLA Information Policy Committee
Canada’s CSEC agency isn’t as well known as its American counterpart, the NSA, but the Snowden leaks have brought them into the spotlight for their spying efforts. This spying has many questionable aspects, including economic espionage on Brazil, but even more concerning (if you’re Canadian) is how little we know about their spying on Canadians.
Not everyone is content to assume that things can’t be that bad in Canada. The BC Civil Liberties Association has launched a lawsuit against the Canadian government because of CSEC’s unaccountable illegal spying. This is a huge precedent-setting deal.
Watch this space for more of what librarians specifically can do to help (and feel free to make suggestions here, on Twitter or wherever else you feel moved to).
Just a short post today to note that Daniel Caron has made a public response to the outcry about the Code of Conduct. Basically he says that this is normal, “commonly applied in the public and private sector.”
The problem with this response is that as noted on Bibliocracy “This basically says ‘leave your brain and your free will at the door’.” That is a problem not just for librarians and archivists at LAC but any citizen.
Listen again to our committee chair talking about the things that it makes sense to be sensitive about information professionals disclosing. That’s where the balance of responsibility in being an information professional comes in. Despite what Caron says, this abysmal code of conduct gathers up everything a librarian could possibly say and treats it like every possible opinion is high-risk and must be cleared by superiors. If that was commonly applied in information organizations (and other settings) around this country how could anyone say we had any sorts of freedoms of expression?
One of the benefits of this terrible code of conduct being made public and getting media attention is that it might be a spur for information professionals at other organizations, in the public and private sectors, to take a look at their own organizational policies. If our codes of conduct were made public would people be outraged, like we are about LAC? These are conversations we should be having in our workplaces too and this media attention is a good excuse to do some self-reflection too.
A final note (to a post that went longer than I thought it would): Friday morning on CBC Radio’s Q, Jian Ghomeshi will be talking about LAC in his opening essay. I’m sure a lot of librarchivists will be listening.
You’ve read this blog’s starter post on the LAC Code of Conduct, and BCLA’s statement on it (which had a nicely pointed critique of LAC seeing its employees’ accomplishments and opinions as sources of suspicion instead of pride). You’ve been reading other blogs and news sources noticing the kerfuffle about librarians and scientists getting muzzled (plus some analysis of interesting word choice within the documents).
What can you possibly do next?
Listen to this stuff! With your ears!
BCLA Info Policy Committee chair Myron Groover was on CBC Radio’s As It Happens this evening. Listen to the segment which focuses on how LAC can try to control librarians’ off-work behaviour, including the snitch line. Also, earlier in the week James Turk, the executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, was interviewed on Radio-Canada International [scroll down to the bottom to hit the “Listen” link].
One of the reasons this issue is a big deal (and why it’s important for the public to hear about it) is because it’s not just librarians and archivists being told not to talk about their work, but scientists and even our (former) Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page [following that link takes you to a story with a “Listen” link if you desire]. As government websites get pared down, it’s not hard to see that in Canada “long-term research and evidence-based policy making are about to get a lot tougher.”