Text: Small Text  Normal Text  Large Text  Larger Text
  • Blog

Blog Archive

PrevPrevApril 2014NextNext
SMTWTFS
  12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930
Michael Geist's Blog

The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Internet Surveillance: What Canadians Can Do

Over the past eight months, the steady stream of Snowden leaks have revealed the existence of a massive surveillance infrastructure intent on capturing seemingly all communications, including metadata on phone calls, Internet searches, and other online activity. While much of the surveillance originates with the U.S. NSA, the leaks suggest that Canada plays a key role in many initiatives and that Canadians' data is undoubtedly captured in the process. Indeed, in recent months, we've learned about:
Moreover, we know that U.S. law provides fewer protections to personal information of non-U.S. citizens, suggesting that Canadian data residing in cloud-based servers in the U.S. are particularly vulnerable. Meanwhile, the Canadian legal rules remain largely shrouded in secrecy, with officials maintaining that programs fall within the law despite the obvious privacy interests in metadata and statutory restrictions on domestic surveillance.

I recently posted on a discussion I had last summer with a senior government official on the Snowden leaks. The official remarked that in the wake of the Snowden revelations the political risk did not lie with surveillance itself, since most Canadians basically trusted their government and intelligence agencies to avoid misuse. Rather, the real concern was with being caught lying about the surveillance activities. This person was of the view that Canadians would accept surveillance, but they would not accept lying about surveillance programs.

Today is the day that Canadians can send a message that this official is wrong. The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance is a global effort to galvanize people around the world to speak out against ubiquitous surveillance. Canadians can learn more here, but the key ask is to contact your Member of Parliament. If you are concerned with widespread surveillance in Canada, take a couple of moments to send an email or letter (no stamp required) to your MP and let them know how you feel (alternatively, you can fill out the form at this site). In addition, you can sign onto a global petition supported by hundreds of groups around the world. 

I've written about the need for changes here and many others - including Interim Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier, Kent Roach, Wesley Wark, Ron Diebert, David Fraser, Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian and Avner Levin, Craig Forcese, and Lisa Austin - have highlighted other potential changes. There are no shortage of ideas for reform. What we need now are Canadians to speak out to demand an open review and reform of Canadian surveillance law and policy.
Tags:
, , , ,
Share: Slashdot, Digg, Del.icio.us, Newsfeeder, Reddit, StumbleUpon, TwitterTagsShare
 

Leaked Conservative Election Document Reveals How Social Media Activity Linked to Party Database

The Toronto Star reports  on a leaked Conservative party document setting out the strategy for the 2015 election.  Of particular note is the party's plans to engage in widespread social media monitoring that seek to identify users based on social media activity for follow-up and engagement.  The Star reports:

the document showed how the party can mine information on “non-CPC branded” websites, using a friendly media "Illustration." The slide show points to radio station CFRA's Lowell Green, whom it identifies as an "Ottawa based conservative leaning talk show host." It says a "recent Facebook posting - non-issue" received 55 Facebook "likes." The document says the party was able to "positively identify 38 constituents (70 per cent ID rate)." Of those 38, it said five "are current members/donors." The result, it said: "33 Canadians who would be a 'warm contact' for engagement."


Tags:
, ,
Share: Slashdot, Digg, Del.icio.us, Newsfeeder, Reddit, StumbleUpon, TwitterTagsShare
View
 

Canadian Government To Commit More Money Toward Rural Broadband Initiatives

The CBC is reporting that the 2014 federal budget, which is scheduled to be tabled tomorrow, will feature money to "extend or improve high-speed Internet access to 280,000 households and businesses in rural and remote areas." A new commitment to broadband access, which was promised in last fall's speech from the throne, is certainly welcome. It is also the latest in a long line of commitments for public funding to support to broadband connectivity in rural regions in Canada. Industry Canada claims that the Broadband Canada Program, which ran from 2009 to 2012, provided broadband access to 218,000 Canadian households that previously did not have it (full list of funded projects here).

Given the ongoing digital divide in Canada - there are still many Canadians without access to broadband in their homes - this is a welcome development. Yet spending money on rural broadband initiatives is only part of the solution. In many instances, the absence of broadband in the home is not a function of access, but rather affordability. Statistics Canada reports that Internet use among the richer half of the country is actually over 90 per cent with the top quartile of household income at 94.5 per cent and the second quartile at 90.2 per cent. Internet use among the bottom quartile of Canadians stands at only 62.5 per cent (the third quartile is 77.8 per cent). Governments at all levels must be thinking about both access and affordability.


Tags:
,
Share: Slashdot, Digg, Del.icio.us, Newsfeeder, Reddit, StumbleUpon, TwitterTagsShare
 

Competition Bureau Raises Concerns Over Canadian Wireless Market

The longstanding debate over the state of wireless services in Canada has veered across many issues - pricing, roaming fees, locked devices, new entrants, and foreign investment to name a few. At the heart of all of these questions is a single issue: is the current Canadian wireless market competitive?

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the competitiveness of the Canadian market is a foundational question since the answer has huge implications for legislative and regulatory policy. If the market is competitive, regulators (namely the CRTC) can reasonably adopt a "hands-off" approach, confident that competitive forces will result in fair prices and consumer choice. If it is not competitive, standing on the sidelines is not option, thereby pressuring government and the CRTC to promote more competition and to implement measures to prevent the established players from abusing their advantageous position.


Tags:
, ,
Share: Slashdot, Digg, Del.icio.us, Newsfeeder, Reddit, StumbleUpon, TwitterTagsShare
View
 

Who Gets a Large Share of Access Copyright Education Licensing Revenues?: US Publishers Say They Do

As the Canadian education community continues to shift away from the Access Copyright licence, relying instead on a combination of site licenses for materials, open access, fair dealing, and individual transactional licences, U.S. publishers are now urging the U.S. government to pressure the Canadian government to take action. The IIPA, the leading U.S. copyright lobby group, filed its submission today as part of the Special 301 process, a U.S. review of foreign intellectual property laws.

This year's IIPA submission devotes several paragraphs to educational licensing, lamenting the shift away from Access Copyright and claiming that it is U.S. publishers that are being hurt in the process. According to the IIPA:

as soon as the new Act came into force, virtually all K-12 school boards across Canada cancelled their licenses with Access Copyright. Anticipated 2013 annual licensing revenue of at least C$12 million to right holders and authors - much of it destined for U.S. publishers, which enjoy a large market share in the educational sector - evaporated.

The IIPA urges the U.S. government to "engage" with Canadian authorities in the hope that they will tell Canadian educational institutions to pay Access Copyright. While that isn't likely to happen - the government rejected Access Copyright's demands for limitations on the expansion of fair dealing - the IIPA submission is notable for the claim that a large share of the Access Copyright educational licensing revenue was headed not for Canadian authors and publishers, but rather to the United States.
Tags:
,
Share: Slashdot, Digg, Del.icio.us, Newsfeeder, Reddit, StumbleUpon, TwitterTagsShare
 

CIRA Commits One Million Dollars to Improving Canada's Internet

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority, the organization that manages the dot-ca domain, has unveiled an exciting new initiative that will deliver a million dollars toward community projects, research, and other related activities (full disclosure: I am a member of the CIRA board and chair of the committee that will review applications). The typical grant is expected to be worth $25,000 - $50,000, though grants can climb as high as $100,000. Funds are available for community groups, not-for-profit organizations, academic institutions, and associated researchers. The application period opened earlier this week and will run until February 28th. Application guidelines can be found here and the application form is here. This is a great initiative that holds the promise of injecting much needed support into Canadian Internet initiatives. Take a closer look and apply today!
Tags:
,
Share: Slashdot, Digg, Del.icio.us, Newsfeeder, Reddit, StumbleUpon, TwitterTagsShare
 

Against Oversight: Why Fixing the Oversight of Canadian Surveillance Won't Solve the Problem

Last summer, I discussed the Snowden leaks and concerns about Canadian surveillance activities with a senior government official. The official remarked that in the wake of the Snowden revelations the political risk did not lie with surveillance itself, since most Canadians basically trusted their government and intelligence agencies to avoid misuse (the steady stream of Snowden leaks and Canada's increasingly apparent role may have changed this analysis). Rather, the real concern was with being caught lying about the surveillance activities. This person was of the view that Canadians would accept surveillance, but they would not accept lying about surveillance programs.

Those comments came to mind over the past week with the latest revelations about CSEC metadata surveillance. While the story has been characterized as an airport wifi surveillance issue, it is clear that the airport wifi angle misses the real concern. The leaked document and subsequent explanations reveal an attempt to identify travel patterns and geographic locations using user ID data over a two week period provided by a Canadian source (CSEC referred to this as metadata in the Senate committee hearing yesterday) along with a database of geo-locations of IP addresses supplied by Quova (I once served as an advisor to Quova). By identifying airport wifi IP addresses along with broader usage data and geo-identifying information, CSEC hopes to be able to identify locational movements of individual users. Bruce Schneier provides a helpful review of the likely intent of the program.

While some argued the program tracks Canadians and is therefore illegal (citing Charter violations and activities beyond the CSEC mandate), the Justice Minister maintains the program is legal and CSEC has defended the program in a release the day after the story broke and again at the Senate committee yesterday. Moreover, the CSEC Commissioner has posted a somewhat cryptic statement that emphasizes the independence of the review process. Ryan Gallagher has responded to those statements with a post arguing the denials are hollow.



Tags:
, , , , ,
Share: Slashdot, Digg, Del.icio.us, Newsfeeder, Reddit, StumbleUpon, TwitterTagsShare
View
 

Competition Bureau Raises Wireless Competition Concerns, Concludes Big Three Have "Market Power"

The Competition Bureau of Canada has just released its submission to the CRTC's consultation on domestic roaming rates and with it left no doubt about its concerns with the state of wireless competition in Canada. Despite repeated efforts of the big three incumbent providers to argue that the Canadian market is competitive, the Competition Bureau has concluded that the big three enjoy "market power." As the Bureau notes, market power is "the ability of a firm or firms to profitably maintain prices above competitive levels (or similarly restrict non-price dimensions of competition) for a significant period of time." 

Given its market power, the Bureau finds the wireless incumbents can use roaming to shield themselves from competition. It states:

"Incumbents can use the terms and conditions of roaming agreements to raise their rivals’ costs such that incumbents are shielded from the full effect of their the rivals’ (i.e., entrants) entry. Making it more costly for entrants to access incumbent networks through roaming agreements is one way for an incumbent service provider to relax competitive pressure."


Tags:
, ,
Share: Slashdot, Digg, Del.icio.us, Newsfeeder, Reddit, StumbleUpon, TwitterTagsShare
View
 

Why Canada's Telecom Companies Should Come Clean About Customer Information

Earlier this week, I wrote a column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) arguing that Canada's telecom companies should come clean about their disclosures of customer information. That column was in response to a public letter from leading civil liberties groups and academics  sent to Canada's leading telecom companies asking them to shed new light into their data retention and sharing policies. The letter writing initiative, which was led by Christopher Parsons of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs, is the latest attempt to address the lack of transparency regarding how and when Canadians' personal information may be disclosed without their knowledge to law enforcement or intelligence agencies.

That initiative has now effectively been joined by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and NDP MP Charmaine Borg. Chantal Bernier, the interim Privacy Commissioner of Canada, released recommendations yesterday designed to reinforce privacy protections in the age of cyber-surveillance. The report includes the following recommended reform to PIPEDA:

require public reporting on the use of various disclosure provisions under PIPEDA where private-sector entities such as telecommunications companies release personal information to national security entities without court oversight.


Tags:
, , ,
Share: Slashdot, Digg, Del.icio.us, Newsfeeder, Reddit, StumbleUpon, TwitterTagsShare
View
 

Another Step Toward the TPP: Canada Moves to Ratify Five Intellectual Property Treaties

The Canadian government quietly tabled five intellectual property treaties in the House of Commons on Monday:

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, five treaties, entitled, one, Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, adopted at Madrid on June 27, 1989, as amended on October 3, 2006, and on November 12, 2007; two, the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, adopted at Singapore on March 27, 2006; three, the Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classifications of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks, adopted in Nice on June 15, 1957, as revised at Stockholm on July 14, 1967, and at Geneva on May 13, 1977, and amended on September 20, 1979; four, the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs adopted at Geneva on July 2, 1999; and, five, Patent Law Treaty, done at Geneva on June 1, 2000.

I wrote about the move toward ratifying these treaties last year. The Industry Committee recommended their ratification despite the fact that no witnesses raised the issue during lengthy committee hearings. So why the recommendation? I suggested then that the decision is primarily designed to place Canada in position to ratify the Canada - EU Trade Agreement and the Trans Pacific Partnership. While neither of those trade agreements are public, leaks suggest that both include provisions requiring signatories to adopt those IP treaties. The five IP treaties, which focus largely on administrative issues, will now enter the treaty ratification process, which includes a 21-sitting day period where MPs can initiate debate.
Tags:
, , ,
Share: Slashdot, Digg, Del.icio.us, Newsfeeder, Reddit, StumbleUpon, TwitterTagsShare
 
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Results 31 - 40 of 2869