Mass Surveillance

Mass surveillance, sometimes called bulk interception, is a fundamental over-reach of state power. It refers to the wholesale interception, storage and analysis of information about all of us, merely in case it might later prove helpful in a national security context.

From a privacy perspective, mass surveillance is neither necessary nor proportionate, criteria that should apply to surveillance in a democracy. The invasiveness of having all of the information that is on the global information infrastructure, both by and about us, captured “just in case” it might come in handy simply cannot be justified in a nation where we take seriously the fundamental democratic presumption that we have a right to live free unwatched by the state (absent compelling reasons for a targeted investigation).

Mass surveillance negatively affects many of the rights protected by our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and our rights to equality.

Our Work in Mass Surveillance


Clearview AI Engaged In “Mass Surveillance”

February 3, 2021
Clearview AI broke Canadian law when it scraped the internet for 3 billion photos of…

Facial Fingerprinting Pilot by Police Halted by UK Court of Appeal

August 11, 2020
There was a huge victory today for privacy rights against police use of facial recognition…

CCLA Joins Rights Groups Challenging Mass Surveillance In Europe

July 10, 2019
Following last year’s victory in which the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found the…

Mass surveillance challenge proceeds to Europe’s highest human rights court

February 5, 2019
CCLA and 9 partner organisations have made another step forward in our attempt to stop…

Mass Surveillance INCLO Case Continues

December 11, 2018
Mass surveillance violates international privacy rights and is fundamentally incompatible with the rights to free…

CCLA, INCLO and Others Welcome Historic Win Against Mass Surveillance in UK

September 14, 2018
In a landmark win for seven INCLO members, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)…

A Quick Win For Privacy Rights: CCLA vs. Cadillac Fairview

August 7, 2018
Cadillac Fairview, the company that owns numerous popular malls, said it will pause the use…

CCLA Urges Toronto to Delay Purchase of Gunshot-Location Technology ShotSpotter

July 23, 2018
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has serious concerns regarding the impact of new police surveillance…

Lessons to Learn From The Facebook / Cambridge Analytica Scandal

March 21, 2018
There is a lot of outrage, blame, and more than a few “I told you…

Mass Surveillance and Bulk Collection in Bill C-59

September 12, 2017
One of the most insidious elements of Bill C-59 is the way it facilitates bulk…