from Canadia

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Posted by Lilly from ? ( on Tuesday, August 06, 2002 at 2:39PM :

A friend from the vast open plains of Canadia sent this to me today via email.
July 23, 2002

Canada must retain personal privacy and not follow the United States and use its citizens as domestic spies, according to UVic political science professor Reg Whitaker. His comments are in reaction to the U.S. government's launch of Operation TIPS, a surveillance program beginning next month that will recruit ordinary citizens to observe and report suspicious people and activities. "This is something that we should be very critical of, and looks very much like a reprise of the excesses of McCarthyism in the U.S. 50 years ago," he says. "Canadians should be concerned, because if the U.S. goes down this road, it will have implications for Canada, there will be a spillover of suspicion and intolerance, as has happened before." Whitaker is worried that Operation TIPS will heighten fear and mistrust and encourage ethnic profiling both in the States and in Canada. "Although after September 11 the U.S. government was clear and unequivocal about stating it was not at war against Muslim or Arab minorities, Muslim and Arab communities across North America have been under attack. This will only provoke this further, and this should be a huge concern."

Operation TIPS, administered by the U.S. Department of Justice and developed in partnership with several other federal agencies, is one of the five component programs of the Citizen Corps. Operation TIPS will be a national system for reporting suspicious, and potentially terrorist-related activity. The program will involve the millions of American workers who, in the daily course of their work, are in a unique position to see potentially unusual or suspicious activity in public places.

The Department of Justice is discussing participation with several industry groups whose workers are ideally suited to help in the anti-terrorism effort because their routines allow them to recognize unusual events and have expressed a desire for a mechanism to report these events to authorities.

These workers will use their common sense and knowledge of their work environment to identify suspicious or unusual activity. This program offers a way for these workers to report what they see in public areas and along transportation routes.

All it will take to volunteer is a telephone or access to the Internet as tips can be reported on the toll-free hotline or online. Information received will be entered into the national database and referred electronically to a point of contact in each state as appropriate. This is not a national 911 center, and callers are expected to dial 911 for emergency local response.

Industries that are interested in participating in this program will be given printed guidance material, flyers and brochures, about the program and how to contact the Operation TIPS reporting center. This information can be distributed to workers or posted in common work areas. Operation TIPS is scheduled to be launched in late summer or early fall 2002. The goal of the program is to establish a reliable and comprehensive national system for reporting suspicious, and potentially terrorist-related, activity. By establishing one central reporting center, information from several different industries can be maintained in a single database. Operation TIPS will be phased in across the country to enable the system to build its capacity to receive an increasing volume of tips.

-- Lilly
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