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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Government wants to spy on Internet users: learn how to protect yourself


In my latest series of articles written for the Western Standard, I take a look two pieces of legislation that were introduced in the House of Commons before the summer recess. The proposed legislation would force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to install costly monitoring equipment on their networks and give the government expanded powers to monitor its citizens Internet use.

In the first article, entitled Government of Canada moves to monitor Internet users, I look at what the legislation says and what it means to Canadians:

The legislation would create additional requirements for ISPs and expand police powers. These ISP requirements can be broken down into two components. First, ISPs will be required to install costly surveillance equipment on their networks. Part of the cost will fall to taxpayers while the remainder will be carried by the companies themselves. Some smaller ISPs will be exempt from this requirement for a period of three years, creating an unfair burden on the larger, more successful companies. Second, the legislation would require that all ISPs give personal information to the government, including the names of their customers, as well as their IP, e-mail, and mailing addresses—on demand and without any judicial oversight.

Police will also gain expanded powers under this legislation. First, they will be able to obtain information about Internet-based messaging, including tracking what sites people are visiting and who they are communicating with. This information will be subject to a judicial order. Second, police will be able to order ISPs to preserve data on their customers. Third, police will be able to obtain a warrant to remotely activate tracking devices in technologies such as cellular telephones. Fourth, the legislation also deals with computer viruses and makes it easier for the government to coordinate its efforts with international governments.

There are numerous problems with the proposed legislation that should be alarming to freedom loving Canadians. It forces private business to not only be complicit in the government's attempt to spy on its citizens, it also forces them to shoulder much of the financial responsibility for the new policy. As such, some ISPs may be forced out of business. In addition, the legislation gives law enforcement officials unprecedented access to private communications and forces ISPs to preserve private data and disclose subscribers identities.

In the second article, entitled How to thwart government surveillance and censorship online, I explore the various technologies that are available to protect your privacy and thwart government censors:

The Canadian government recently introduced legislation that would expand its powers to monitor Canadians Internet activity. Even though the legislation has not yet been passed into law, we already know that governments around the world are monitoring Internet communications. Luckily, there is an abundance of ways to help protect your privacy in cyberspace. The main obstacle to many of these technologies becoming commonplace is a lack of users. For example, it is possible to send encrypted e-mails, but unless the other people within your social network are using the technology, no one will be able to read your messages. If enough people are concerned about protecting their privacy, we may see the critical mass of people necessary to seamlessly integrate some of these technologies into our daily computing experience. Detailed below are some of the ways to protect yourself on the Internet.

Both articles are available at westernstandard.ca.

Posted by Jesse Kline on July 15, 2009 in Web/Tech | Permalink


No One! should be ok with this. This is a complete and total affront to the right to privacy. And the minute you make the excuse that its ok because "I have nothing to hide", you give the government and its controllers way too much ground. Lets not be sleep walked into a society who's thoughts and actions are programmed and controlled by those who are already fleecing us like sheep. The underlying motivation here is pure evil.

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-07-16 6:14:57 AM

Soooo...where are the Harperites trying to defend this?

Posted by: Faramir | 2009-07-16 7:47:29 AM

I would expect this kind of thing from the paternalistic authoritarian fascist Harper, and his stormtroopers. Welcome to the age of thought-crimes. Please turn over your diaries and personal journals to Herr Harper so that he can make sure nobody is having any impure thoughts.

Posted by: DrGreenthumb | 2009-07-16 9:09:18 AM

Gee, I thought I was living in Canada and not communist China. Along with loss of freedom of speech, of the press, of association, private property rights and gun rights, we get this and most people remain asleep at the wheel. This sounds like something originating from the CHRC.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-07-16 11:01:23 AM

"There are numerous problems with the proposed legislation that should be alarming to freedom loving Canadians. It forces private business to not only be complicit in the government's attempt to spy on its citizens, it also forces them to shoulder much of the financial responsibility for the new policy."

Your local bank and accountant already do that for them. Anyone with a GST number is already under the watchful eye of these institutions of society, under penalty of fines or jail for failing to "report".

As for throwing muck at the "Harperites", are the "Iggyites" any different? Jack! too? The "Hareites" represent government - period. Why would they NOT support this idea and the continued retention of their own, self picked CHRC Czarina?

Posted by: po'd in AB | 2009-07-16 11:21:30 AM

I'm okay with it if only for porn sites that contains child porn and violent Islamist sites as well as KKK sites.. everything else, off limits to the government! You cannot suck and blow at the same time. You cannot say we have absolute freedom of speech if this will come about. Opiners will have to watch what they say? We will go from a democratic country to a theocratic country or we will go to hell in a handbasket is more aptly put.

Posted by: Suppression | 2009-07-16 6:45:32 PM

News flash for Suppression; the government already monitors child porn sites and the others. The problem is that those in charge get carried away and end up labelling any site they do not like as one to be banned. As a parent I most certainly do not defend child porn, but as a parent it is my responsibility to monitor what my children can access, not the state.

As for the other sites you mention, no matter what I think of them, they should have the right to express their views. They only cross the line if they participate in or promote violence.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-07-16 8:03:52 PM

Gee, I thought Shane would be all over this. Sounds like his kinda thing :) jab, jab.
Seriously now, this is getting troublesome. When will there be a camera in my TV looking back at me? With out a judges oversight, this gets dangerous. They can already listen to your phone calls, intercept your mail, and track you for life through your banking transactions. This is just the next step. But at least they have (or had?) to go before a judge with some evidence that this step had to be taken. Maybe I watch too much Law and Order....

Posted by: Steve Bottrell | 2009-07-16 8:17:41 PM

Australia's tilting against porn has turned into all out censorhsip now. In any case all we did by tossing the Liberals was replacing one totalitarian regime with another. I wonder what chance we have at a CPC revolt against Harper, Nicholson and Flaherty for some real conservatives?

Posted by: Faramir | 2009-07-16 8:36:30 PM

In the case of protecting childern, the responsibility to monitor our children goes to the parent not the state.

All though I dislike the KKK and Islamic extremists, I would not for a second permit the government to in act this law to spy one them. Governments all ways point to the extremists for justification to spy and gain extraordinary powers, so that in our fear we will give it to them. Perhaps you trust this current government with this responsibility but what about future governments? Would you trust this power in the hands of the NDP? What if the government became crueler towards your beliefs I am sure all of a sudden you would not like them spying on you, whats legal today may not be legal tomorrow and you could find yourself an enemy of the state. The excuse you have nothing to fear if your are not a criminal is no justification at one time it was criminal to be gay! Who knows what future laws hold in store you could find yourself on the wrong side simply because of your belief system what if in the future it became illegal to be Muslim or Christian? This law will be there so the government can dive right into your activity.

This type of law will do nothing to police the internet any way all the illegal activity will just go offshore and the legitimate business and people will be forced to carry this burden just like gun registries,immigration laws, and prohibition .

Posted by: Calgary Libertarian | 2009-07-17 7:22:35 AM

Synarchical Orwellianism. Boy, Canada is awesome.

Posted by: PGIB | 2009-07-17 5:21:56 PM

Faramir re: "I wonder what chance we have at a CPC revolt against Harper, Nicholson and Flaherty for some real conservatives?"

You already have real conservatives running the Harper and the other Conservative Parties: it is just that conservative does not mean what the rhetoric claims it means.

Simply speaking conservative means preserving the status quo: and as big government is now status quo conservatives are pro big government economically. Ottawa and Alberta both have conservative governments proving that. Fancy conspiracy theories that the conservative parties are not conservative are not required to explain this obvious fact.
KISS or Ocam's razor are both useful here.

Posted by: V.M. Smith | 2009-07-22 8:18:17 PM

Governments are one problem but the Police monitoring of Comments is very serious.Anybody that is critical of Police will be "picked out and summarily executed" so to speak.The next time the Courts let some criminal cop off with a stupid Suspended with Pay or any Off-Duty criminal actions that interest Bloggers, will absolutely be punished before it hits the air.It is the instant communication aspect that scares them and thus motivates them to push this Law through.You see the Police disguised as ordinary Bloggers sanctifying everything they do here in B.C.all the time.They would block out the bad PR instantly and put their own sometimes criminal slants out there and critical Comments censored.Not to mention frame ups of Disidents in their self-survival views.

Posted by: Frank B.C. | 2009-07-29 7:28:48 PM

Thank you so much for allowing me to be privy to this information. It would have
completely gone over my head during the time it is most important for me to take
action against these ridiculous bills! I am going to take the the jump to
"How to thwart government surveillance and censorship online" now and
see what I can do about this situation.

Posted by: Ari | 2009-09-07 1:58:47 PM

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