State Surveillance

The Issue

Documents released by Edward Snowden have revealed a degree of state surveillance that exceeds almost everyone’s worst fears.  What is unknown are the full effects pervasive surveillance is having on individual action and decision-making and the viability of our democratic institutions.

Why It Matters

Intellectual privacy is essential for free expression. It is the privacy that shields us from surveillance as we generate and explore ideas, discuss them with confidants, and prepare to express our thoughts and engage in action in our everyday lives and in the public domain.

Our Work

The Centre for Free Expression explores the extent, nature and effects of surveillance. Our focus is to create greater public awareness and understanding of these issues and to promote discussion of laws, policies and practices that ensure democratic and human rights are not compromised


BPC Bulletins

BPC Bulletin: Canada's Eskimo Correspondence Records

July 09, 2020 - In the 1950s and 1960s, Inuit patients who were being treated for tuberculosis in the south of Canada wrote letters to their families in the Arctic. Canadian government officials had these private letters translated from Inuktitut into English and kept them on file. Some letters were never sent to their destinations in the Arctic.


CFE Virtual Forum Series: Pandemics and Civil Liberties

The coronavirus poses a threat to our individual and collective future. As governments attempt to deal with the pandemic, they face apparent trade-offs between collective wellbeing and individual human rights and civil liberties.


CFE Joins 156 Other Organizations in Calling for Governments in Canada to Make Human Rights a Centrepiece of their Response to Covid-19 Pandemic

More that 300 organizations, academics, and public figures have called on governments in Canada to ensure that human rights are central in their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

April 15, 2020


Can your face be your undoing: The perils of facial recognition

What does consent look like, in an era of facial recognition? What rules need to be in place to keep us safe? Can it ever be used 'responsibly'?

Past Event

Can your face be your undoing: The perils of facial recognition

Facial Recognition is becoming overwhelmingly prevalent. Being rolled out faster than rules and regulations can possibly keep up, the stakes are very high.