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Michael Geist's Blog

Sony Rootkit Redux: Canadian Business Groups Lobby For Right To Install Spyware on Your Computer

The deadline for comments on Industry Canada's draft anti-spam regulations passed earlier this week with a group of 13 industry associations - including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Marketing Association, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association and the Entertainment Software Association of Canada - submitting a lengthy document  that, if adopted, would gut much of the law. The groups adopt radical interpretations of the law to argue for massive new loopholes or for the indefinite delay of several provisions. I will focus on some of the submissions shortly, but this post focuses on the return of an issue that was seemingly killed years ago: demands to permit surreptitious surveillance by the copyright owners and other groups for private enforcement purposes.

During the anti-spam law debates in 2009, copyright lobby groups promoted amendments that would have allowed for expansive surveillance of user computers. Coming on the heels of the Sony rootkit scandal, the government ultimately rejected those proposals (the Liberals had plans to propose such amendments but backed down), leaving in place an important provision that requires express consent prior to the installation of computer software. The provision states:


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