Indigenous land defenders monitored by Canadian government owned pipeline company security officials

Published by Brent Patterson on

On November 25, 2019, CBC reported, “The federally owned Trans Mountain Corporation is monitoring pipeline opponents and designating some as persons of interest who warrant closer scrutiny, according to internal records provided to CBC News.”

“The Trans Mountain documents show its security officials recorded the names of individuals who posted anti-pipeline videos and statements on social media, along with the names of those tagged in the posts or who shared the content. “

“The activity reports primarily contain social media information, along with short commentaries on anti-pipeline social media chatter on Facebook and Twitter, planned demonstrations, along with analysis and descriptions of the situation on the ground. “

“The documents detailed the movements of [a ‘person of interest’, their] past activist history and their relationship with other protest and Indigenous groups.”

“The corporation would not say what it does with the names it gathers in its reports or how it determines someone to be a person of interest. Nor would it answer questions on whether it shares this information with other federal departments or the RCMP.”

Not long after this news article, the Canadian Press reported about a similar monitoring of mining justice activist Rachel Small.

“An analyst with the RCMP’s Tactical Internet Intelligence Unit combed through online sources about Rachel Small to assemble the report detailing her age, address, education, language fluency, work experience and Facebook friends in the activist community, newly released documents show.”

“The Oct. 1, 2015, report, which includes photos and other material culled from Small’s social-media accounts, was prepared by the internet intelligence unit under the auspices of the criminal intelligence program of the RCMP’s Ontario division.”

Small is with the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN), “a grassroots group concerned about the harms that mining companies, many of them Canadian, can do to communities, the environment and human rights [including in Latin America].”

Earlier this year, the Canadian Press reported, “Sgt. Penny Hermann, an RCMP spokeswoman, said the force acknowledges the constitutional right to protest peacefully, but adds the police must do due diligence to ensure there are no threats or concerns for public safety.”

Cara Zwibel with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has stated, “The fact that someone’s an activist should not be enough to render them the subject of suspicion by law enforcement. That, to me, is a problem in a democratic society.”

And Carleton University professor Jeffrey Monaghan has commented, “It raises all kinds of questions about what it means to have rights of expression in a democracy.”

This past February, PBI-Spanish State co-organized a “theoretical and practical workshop on digital privacy and security for activists” and PBI-Netherlands has supported digital security training through the Shelter City Network in partnership with Justice and Peace Netherlands.

The Justice and Peace webpage on Digital Security is here. Front Line Defenders also provides various Digital Security Resources here.

Categories: News Updates


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