“From now, know that every border you cross, every purchase you make, every call you dial, every cell phone tower you pass, friend you keep, article you write, site you visit, subject line you type, and packet you route, is in the hands of a system whose reach is unlimited but whose safeguards are not.” – Edward Snowden
A Partiers’ Guide to (Increasing) Internet Security
Using drugs is risky business. Prohibition (drugs being illegal) makes it so that every step of the way from buying drugs, having drugs on you and even being high once you do them could land you in deep legal trouble.
Let’s talk about three important topics: drugs, security and the dance music community. In an ideal world these could all happily co-exist, yet in reality these three topics in our society don’t get along too well. One of the most troublesome and obvious relations lies between drugs and security. People who use are treated differently in society via prohibition. As a result, their inherent human right to personal security is frequently and seriously threatened, if not entirely disregarded. Socially, these folks may be ostracized and dis-empowered, facing stigma on a daily basis; legally, they are under threat of persecution. Physically and emotionally, they are often victims of violence, trauma, medical neglect and an absence of adequate social supports, including harm reduction resources.
The use of illegal substances does not occur in a vacuum, it occurs within a broad context; Individuals from all walks of life use substances for reasons often complex and multifaceted. The right to individual privacy becomes substantially more complicated when we think to consider the the socio-economic implications of substance use and its impact on the hundreds of millions of people internationally who consume illegal drugs. As a result, a person who uses substances becomes most vulnerable when they speak to others about using and drugs.
A recent report analyzed the stated privacy protocols of 43 common Canadian internet service providers (ISPs). The results uncovered that most service providers don’t share much information about what they do with your information. “It appears that many Canadian internet carriers are in violation of their legal responsibilities” under Canadian privacy law, says the report entitled “Keeping Internet Users in the Know or in the Dark”. “Generally speaking, most carriers in Canada … score quite poorly in terms of privacy transparency — an average of two out of 10 stars, which is fairly low,”.
Thankfully, there are groups of activists who advocate for our right to cyber privacy. Since a Supreme Court ruling in 2014, Canadians have the right to be anonymous on the internet and police must obtain a warrant to uncover their identities. A recent decision from the Supreme Court bans internet service providers from disclosing the names, addresses and phone numbers of their customers to law enforcement officials voluntarily in response to a simple request — something ISPs have been doing hundreds of thousands of times a year. Law enforcement now require an appropriate warrant before they can access an individual’s private digital information. Yet this does not mean that service providers can’t willingly give law enforcement access to someone’s private information without a warrant and currently, ISPs are notorious for sharing personal data of their customers!
Law enforcement agencies worldwide in recent years have been investing considerably in monitoring social media and other forms of electronic communication as a new investigative tool to search for clues and prevent or prosecute crime. “Canadian police have adopted social media faster than most U.S. forces.” For instance, “One man from the Greater Toronto Area, identified as Sunith Baheerathan on Twitter (@SunithDB8R), learned this the hard way on Tuesday when his tweet “Any dealers in Vaughan wanna make a 20sac chop? Come to Keele/Langstaff Mr. Lube, need a spliff” attracted the wrong kind of attention.” This fellow thought it might be ok to tweet requests for pot but quickly learned that his actions put him at real risk of prosecution by law enforcement. It was a choice that put his security at risk. This example illustrates how a such a small mistake online could promptly get you in trouble with the law. It’s important to understand that police officers can and do create false identities and profiles on social media websites to investigate and monitor individuals they may believe to be engaged in some form of illicit activity.
Facebook has recently filled a massive lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Agency of America for engaging in these covert operations. Always be careful of anything you post on social media: photos from house parties with evidence of drug use in the background, images of controlled substances, pot, bongs, baggies, white powders, or large stacks of cash can be enough evidence for an officer to initiate an investigation into you. Anything uploaded to the internet is there for life. This could also jeopardize future employment opportunities, employee screening often includes a review of social media accounts. Modify your privacy settings to be as secure as possible so only trusted people can view your posts.
Do not talk openly about any illicit activity including drugs via unsecured electronic communication; law enforcement has the capability to intercept text messages, phone calls, emails and facebook messages. Police will often lurk social media to find private house parties to raid. To deter this, you can make the event an invite only closed group and send the location to the party-goers personally. Before accepting new friend requests, you might want to ask where they know you from, and if in doubt you can message some of the people on their friends list to verify that in fact they are a real person. In some regions, undercover officers post social media or classified advertisement websites in an attempt to entrap people who use drugs by offering illicit substances for sale or using code words like, “I’ve got party favors” “It’s snowing out who wants to go skiing” or “My friends tina, molly and gina are all here having a party! Anyone want to hangout with them”. Entrapment is legal in some regions depending on the local laws.
Now, you may say, “Well, I’m not silly enough to head to twitter to buy my pot!” Good! However, there are always opportunities to make mistakes when it comes to security. Total security is unachievable, but with the right knowledge and tools, individual and group security levels can be increased significantly. So let’s take a look at some of the tools available, and learn how to use them with security in mind!
Part 2 coming soon!