Canada’s national police force wants a digital tool to harvest data from a sweeping variety of online sources, including the darkest reaches of the internet, to provide early information on threats such as disease outbreaks and mass shootings.
The software would allow an RCMP officer to quickly mine data about a person’s internet activities, from an emoji posting on Facebook to an illicit firearm purchase on the so-called darknet.
“Social media and publicly available information will be used to identify threats and address public concerns,” says the RCMP contract tender.
The application would also help spot brewing public-relations issues “and enhance strategic, operational and tactical information for improved decision-making in a crisis or major-event setting.”
The tender says the tool should include a dashboard with reports on breaking news, mass-casualty events, terrorist attacks, disease outbreaks and natural disasters.
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The solicitation notice was issued in mid-April, just days before a gunman went on a deadly rampage in Nova Scotia.
However, the initiative is rooted in another tragedy, the fatal shootings of three police officers and the woundings of two others in Moncton, N.B., six years ago.
A report on the events recommended the RCMP procure a real-time social-media monitoring tool to help identify risks and improve public communication, noted Cpl. Caroline Duval, an RCMP spokeswoman.
“The police must keep pace with the emergence of new technologies to best serve their communities,” Duval said. “Social-media analysis can support public safety in a variety of ways.”
The RCMP already uses such information to detect threats to major events, infrastructure or other locations, she said. It has also helped identify dangers to public figures and prevent suicides, school shootings and other criminal actions discussed on social media, Duval added.
Such trawling of open-source material by the Mounties has also raised privacy questions.
A Toronto activist concerned about mining-industry abuses recently learned the Mounties compiled a six-page profile of her shortly after she showed up at a federal leaders debate during the 2015 election campaign.
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Rachel Small, an organizer with the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, said it was “kind of creepy and unsettling” to see the RCMP profile, which came to light years later through an access-to-information request.
The new software tool would sift publicly available Internet data sources and content including, but not limited to, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, chatrooms, message boards, social networks, and video and image-sharing websites.
The tender suggests the tool have a broach reach, capable of turning up data from cyberspots such as deal-shopping site Groupon and gaming platform Farmville.
It would also delve into content found in less visible segments of the internet, the deep web and darknet, that can elude commonly used search engines.
The new tool would complement the RCMP’s existing Social Studio software, used in a social media monitoring project known as Wide Awake that is designed to zero in on threats by flagging key words.
The RCMP’s efforts to divine useful information from social media have sparked discussions with the federal privacy commissioner, said Vito Pilieci, a spokesman for the ombudsman.
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The commissioner’s office has highlighted the need for the RCMP to be transparent with the public about its social-media monitoring activities and the importance of a privacy impact assessment, a formal analysis of the risks to personal information, Pilieci said.
The RCMP has demonstrated the Social Studio software for the commissioner’s office, Duval said.
The police force is finalizing a privacy impact assessment on the use of social media analysis software and, once completed, will post an executive summary on the RCMP’s website, she added.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Social media helps solve mystery of lost camera found in Kelowna’s Mill Creek – Globalnews.ca
Brianna Irawan, 13, was extremely happy after finding out on Thursday that her prized underwater camera that had been lost for almost a year had been found in Kelowna’s Mill Creek.
The Williams Lake teen was visiting relatives in Kelowna last year when she lost the camera while jumping into the waterfalls at Mill Creek Regional Park.
“We were on Mill Creek, jumping into the water and I put my camera underneath my clothes,” Irawan told Global News on Friday.
“When I jumped, I forgot about my camera, so I walked back up and then I picked up my clothes and I forgot my camera was underneath and it fell into the water.”
Social media helps solve mystery of lost camera found in Kelowna’s Mill Creek
She went back the creek several times over the next few days, but eventually had to write her camera off to the river gods.
The Fujifilm XP model wasn’t seen again until almost a year later when Calvin Van Buskirk found it caught up in some debris downstream.
“What makes it even more interesting is we found a GoPro there last year. You guys [Global News] were able to get the images and the videos off it within hours it found its way back to its rightful owner,” Van Buskirk said.
Construction crew makes unusual find near Kelowna
It took less than 24 hours for images retrieved from the camera to make their way around social media and back to their owner.
Kyla Irawan, Brianna’s mother, sent a message to Global News on Thursday afternoon through Facebook to say the photos had come from her daughter.
On Friday, Global News returned the camera — still in working order — to Brianna’s uncle, Travis Whiting, who is also Kelowna’s fire chief.
‘This is the craziest thing,’: Lost GoPro owner reunited with camera
The Irawans shared a message of gratitude with Van Buskirk.
“Thank you, Calvin, we totally appreciate your honesty,” said Kyla Irawan.
“Thank you for putting it on Global so I can give my daughter the opportunity to have all those memories back.”
For her part, Brianna said she can’t wait to see her FujiFilm XP model again.
“Soon as I get it, I’m going to transfer the photos” to a computer, she said.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Former UBC basketball assistant coach criticized for social media activity – The Province
Long-time assistant men’s basketball coach Vern Knopp will no longer work next to head coach Kevin Hanson.
The University of B.C. is distancing itself from former assistant men’s basketball coach Vern Knopp following questions about some of his activity on social media.
A Twitter account called Muted Madness pointed out on Thursday that Knopp had hit the like button on a video posted by conservative comedians the Hodge Twins on June 3 that claims the Black Lives Matter movement is a “leftist lie.”
A number of other Twitter users echoed the criticism of Knopp, who served as head coach Kevin Hanson’s volunteer assistant for the past two decades.
Later on Thursday, he shared a comment on his account, which is set to private: “So I never knew some likes to conservative posts would cause this shit storm? However my LIKES are those of mine and have nothing to do with UBC! I had told Coach Hanson months ago that I wasn’t returning to UBC but I just not (sic) made it public, only to my family.”
Reached via direct message on Friday, Knopp said he’d told Hanson about his decision in May as well as some parents on the team, but declined to make further comment.
Later on Thursday, Kavie Toor, UBC Athletics’ managing director, distanced the university from Knopp.
“Vern Knopp’s personal opinions, beliefs and social media endorsements do not represent the ideals and values of the UBC Thunderbirds. Vern Knopp is no longer a member of the Thunderbrids men’s basketball coaching staff,” he tweeted.
On Friday, the university’s athletics department declined to comment further.
The Alma Mater Society, a UBC students’ union, expressed support for the university’s position.
“The AMS is committed to supporting students from the Black community at this time, and we are actively working to develop programming to help combat anti-Black racism at UBC. The sentiments expressed by Mr. Knopp have absolutely no place at UBC, and society in general,” they said in a statement.
“We are encouraged to see that UBC Athletics and Recreation has taken a zero-tolerance approach to this issue.”
On Tuesday, the department shared a message on Twitter from university president Santa Ono.
“As Thunderbirds we join all of UBC in condemning racism in all forms. We are committed to an inclusive and respectful environment where we listen, learn and continue to grow together,” the department said in a tweet.
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Saskatoon police Cst. placed on leave in connection with 'concerning' social media posts – CKOM News Talk Sports
The Saskatoon Police Service has placed a constable on administrative leave regarding concerning posts on their personal social media account.
On Friday morning, police say they were notified about private posts that a member is accused of making on his personal social media account.
Police say the posts were harmful and offensive to the gender and sexually diverse community.
As a result, the member was immediately placed on administrative leave and an investigation was initiated regarding his conduct.
In a release, Chief of Police Troy Cooper said, “The relationship we have with the gender and sexually diverse community is incredibly important to the Saskatoon Police Service. I was to assure the public that we take these complaints seriously. We have acted swiftly to address the issue and a thorough investigation will occur.”
The 12-year member will remain on administrative leave while an investigation takes place.
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