Category Archives: Blog

OIPC Launches Inquiry into Police Chief Associations

The BC Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner is investigating the legal nature and practices of British Columbia’s two police chief associations and, as part of that process, will be soliciting public input until January 17th, 2014 (revised deadline is now February 14, 2014.). Commissioner Elizabeth Denham is considering whether to recommend that the BC Association of Chiefs of Police (BCACP) and BC Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police (BCAMCP) should be declared to be “public bodies” and be made subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). The OIPC’s official announcement will appear within the next few days. (Dec. 11: Her letter to stakeholders has now been released.)

This inquiry comes after I submitted to the OIPC in late October a 9-page letter and about 70 pages of evidence showing that the BCACP and BCAMCP have been secretly operating as de facto governing bodies for all police forces in British Columbia for decades.

The key issue here is important: BC police chiefs certainly should have the freedom to associate with each other in private, and to lobby government and publicly advocate. At the same time, however, it’s vital that important decisions by our police chiefs that affect the governance and operations of our public police forces should be reasonably transparent and accountable to the public. The problem is the way that our police chief associations are doing these two things at the same time, at the same meetings; the associations are operating as both private lobby groups and as public bodies, and up until now they have been doing it all in absolute secrecy out of the reach of laws covering either public or private bodies.

So either the associations must change the way they do business by clearly separating their private activities from their public activities, or the associations must be made fully subject to our public freedom of information laws.

If you’re media and would like to interview me, contact 250-388-6064 or email rob at robwipond dot com. If you have an interest in or concerns about policing in British Columbia, then I encourage you to write a letter to the OIPC at info@oipc.bc.ca . I also suggest sending copies to Andrew Wilkinson, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizen’s Services (the ministry in charge of FIPPA) at TIACS.minister@gov.bc.ca  and to Suzanne Anton, Minister of Justice and Attorney General at JAG.Minister@gov.bc.ca  (the ministry in charge of policing), and to Premier Christy Clark at premier@gov.bc.ca

This could be precedent setting, because across Canada, many police chief associations have been for many years secretly operating in a similar kind of dual capacity, as both private lobby groups and as public governing bodies, and engaging in deep conflicts of interest and a total lack of accountability while doing so. In addition, this is a good opportunity to clarify a legal and political ‘test’ for what constitutes a public agency versus a private group — something which is relevant in many other situations where governments are increasingly operating in private-public ‘grey areas’. (See for example the 2009 Canadian Supreme Court case involving the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority in which the court worked to define “government body” as it relates to our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.)

To learn more about the associations, here are the articles for Focus magazine that I’ve researched and written on this subject that have led up to this OIPC decision, along with some of the actual document evidence.

The articles in order:

Are BC Police Chiefs Evading the Law? (October 2012)

Is the Law Catching Up to BC’s Police Chiefs? (May 2013)

“Curiouser and Curiouser” (July 2013)

Coup de Police (November 2013) (If you’re only going to read one article, read this one.)

And if you’re keenly interested to know more, below are the records finally obtained during mid-2013 which are discussed in “Coup de Police”. These are pdf files that contain hundreds of pages, so they’ll take some time to download. I suggest right-clicking on the filename and choosing “save link as” or “save file as”:

Records pertaining to the BCACP and BCAMCP from the past two years in the custody of the BC Ministry of Justice, which were generated by the BC government.

All records pertaining to the BCAMCP in the custody of the Victoria, Saanich, Central Saanich, and West Vancouver police departments.

All records pertaining to the BCACP in the custody of the Victoria, Saanich, Central Saanich, and West Vancouver police departments.

BC Police Chief Association Records

It would be great for other people knowledgeable about policing in British Columbia to go through these records that I’ve obtained pertaining to the BC Association of Chiefs of Police and BC Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police. If you do,  please tell me what you learn.

Here’s the back story:

Are BC Police Chiefs Evading the Law?

Is the Law Catching Up to BC’s Police Chiefs?

“Curiouser and Curiouser”

Coup de Police

 

Here are the records finally obtained during mid-2013 which are discussed in “Coup de Police”. These are pdf files that contain hundreds of pages, so they’ll take some time to download. I suggst right-clicking on the filename and choosing “save link as” or “save file as”:

Records pertaining to the BCACP and BCAMCP from the past two years in the custody of the BC Ministry of Justice, which were generated by the BC government.

All records pertaining to the BCAMCP in the custody of the Victoria, Saanich, Central Saanich, and West Vancouver police departments.

All records pertaining to the BCACP in the custody of the Victoria, Saanich, Central Saanich, and West Vancouver police departments.

 

Op-ed on Halifax Election Published in The Coast

(I just published the following article in The Coast in Halifax. Can’t say I’m feeling inspired by the comments below it — and I’m trying to defend these guys’ rights to fair elections becaaaaussse…?? Oh, I’m sure there’s a good reason, it just slips my mind right now what it is. rw)

Was Halifax’ e-vote Hacked?

Evidence shows last fall’s online voting in Halifax was not secure. But is anyone going to do anything about it?

It’s been several weeks since I revealed evidence that the online voting in last fall’s municipal elections in Halifax was not secure. Now I’m starting to wonder, does anyone care? How many people care about defending our most basic pillar of democracy—our elections?

Read the rest at Halifax’ The Coast.

Elections Ontario Releases Damning Report on Internet Voting

Elections Ontario’s “Alternative Voting Technologies Report” released today tries to put an optimistic face on things — e.g. expressing hope that a unique, enforced, province-wide government-issued ID card could help solve some of the problems — but generally they admit that online voting is too risky. A few quotes from their rundown of other jurisdictions:

“In an April 2013 report on compliance with the voting process, Elections Canada indicated that “current Internet voting systems carry with them serious, valid concerns about system security, user authentication, adequate procedural transparency, and preserving the secrecy of the vote.””

“In 2010, Washington D.C.’s internet voting pilot project was compromised by a group of four University of Michigan professors and students who, within 48 hours of the system going live, gained near complete control of the election server. The students and professors were able to successfully change every vote and reveal almost every secret ballot. Election officials did not detect the breach for nearly two business days.”

“In 2000, the U.S. Military implemented a pilot project to evaluate an internet voting implementation. A total of 84 votes were cast, and the cost was approximately $62 million dollars. It was considered to have failed to address numerous key security issues. The program was intended to continue in 2004, but a report analyzing the security of the system indicated that there remained a significant number of vulnerabilities. As a result, the project was cancelled with unresolved security issues cited as the primary cause.”

“Under the Help America Vote Act, the U.S. Department of Defense had been researching and analyzing plans for potential internet voting possibilities. In 2012, plans for internet voting by overseas military personnel were cancelled after a security team audited their $22 million system and found it to be vulnerable to cyber?attacks.”

The report also reviews the 2012 online voting in the elections in Halifax Regional Municipality, and it is evident that even Elections Ontario was not informed by the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre or HRM that there had been significant security concerns flagged during the election period. It’s this frequent lack of honesty surrounding online voting which is most concerning — they become elections whose fairness is based entirely too much on blind trust.

Halifax Election Security — the Story and Documents

I went on CBC radio in Halifax to discuss concerns about the security of their online election, and then was stunned to hear how an elections official went on the next day to patently dismiss all concerns. Consequently, security researcher Kevin McArthur has gone public with some of the background story, and some of the evidence, surrounding my recent video about the security vulnerabilities in the Halifax election.

I’m also posting the documents I obtained from the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre featured in the video: Public Safety disclosure halifax election A-2013-00029

Note that Kevin has posted some of the unredacted documents he submitted to CCIRC — very interesting, and the basics are understandable even to non-technical people.

I think the most interesting and important aspect of all this, though, is how it highlights the way the security of internet voting is so complex that the average person can only choose whether to believe any particular expert or authority or not. Why would we want to turn our elections into processes that are so complicated that we’re then requiring people just to accept on faith that they are fair and valid? It’s fundamentally undemocratic. Paper ballots, properly tracked and audited, work great and are easy to understand.