Canada Lawful Access Bill and Internet Spying

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canada lawful access bill

Will the Canada Lawful Access bill hurt online privacy?

What does the Canada Lawful Access bill propose to do?

Canada’s Conservative political party asserted that it wants to pass a Canada Lawful Access bill, which it claims will crack down on crime. For almost 10 years, there have been failed attempts to pass such a bill but this time there’s a good chance of enacting it into law.

If adopted, the Canada Lawful Access bill would require internet service providers (ISPs) to invest in technologies which would make the real time observation of users’ internet communications possible. Further, ‘Lawful Access’ would mandate internet service providers to provide data to law enforcement officials, regardless of whether or not a warrant was attained, if law enforcement officials claim that a threat to security necessitates their oversight of the internet.

Though intended to decrease criminals’ ability to communicate with one another, many Canadians worry the Canada Lawful Access bill would both give law enforcement a dangerous power with little oversight, and that the cost of developing technologies to monitor users would cost internet service providers a good deal of money.

What are the civil rights concerns about the Canada Lawful Access bill?

Privacy rights activists complain that the Canada Lawful Access bill would have dangerous results if actually implemented into law. For example, the Canadian government would be able to view internet dialogues with basically no restraint whatsoever. Since the law would not require law enforcement officials to get a warrant before searching the personal data of private individuals, many worry the government would take advantage of the information and a subsequent diminishing of individual privacy would result.

Those in favor of the legislation claim the price of safety from criminals warrants individuals to tolerate occasional intrusions into their personal privacy, but many still disagree. Some Canadian privacy rights advocates contend that no crimes have evaded justice yet because of law enforcement officials’ lack of ability to access private internet communications. Of course, it’s difficult to support or rebut such a contention without evidence.

What are the financial concerns about the Canada Lawful Access bill?

If passed, the Canada Lawful Access bill could also impose a burden on internet service providers and force some smaller internet service providers out of business. The law would require internet service providers to purchase technology to monitor activity on websites accessed by their clients. Many large internet service providers would not be put out of business, but some smaller internet service providers, unable to pay for the new technologies, could suffer.

Perhaps, however, internet service providers that do survive the financial results to follow implementation of the bill would pass the cost of the technology off to consumers. This could result in a de facto tax on the Canadian people who, unbeknownst to them, must pay a higher price for internet services. Intended to cut down on crime, the Canada Lawful Access bill might just suffer a vigorous battle and massive civil disobedience if implemented.

Will the Internet Bring Freedom to Cuba?

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There’s an information revolution in the air in Cuba — clandestine Internet access is being used to bypass government censorship. And what’s being downloaded is shared by flash drives. Now that communist thug Fidel Castro is out of power and his brother Raul is just a few years from becoming worm food (preferably sooner rather than later with the help of a noose or a firing squad), the time is ripe for overloading Cuba with free market alternatives to the Third World cesspool system that currently exists.

Although I’m not advocating that any laws be broken, it would be a very good thing if more computers, digital cameras, mp3 recorders, and memory sticks found their way into the hands of the Cuban people.

This isn’t a matter of imposing a U.S. style government on Cuba. Instead, you’re providing information for people to make informed decisions as to where they want to take a Free Cuba post-Castro.

If you want to make a difference, support Cubans who are risking their lives to see what we take for granted.

Hat tip to the NY Times.

Internet Taxes Coming Your Way?

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Although the Internet Tax Fairness Act of 1998 has been extended twice, in one month it will expire and you’re going to start getting hit with a bunch of federal, state and local taxes unless Congress acts now to prevent it. The law will expire at that time and politicians are just chomping at the bit to steal more money from your wallet to fund their pork barrel projects.

Some politicians want to make the moratorium permanent. In plain English, they want to ‘permanently’ ban Internet access taxation. Others are seeking a compromise that prevents the U.S. government from fleecing you but lets state and local governments levy Internet access taxes. Think of how bad you already get gouged by taxes on your monthly phone bill.

Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative to vote to make the tax moratorium permanent at all levels. Don’t let them weasel out with a compromise vote that lets some taxation start. Once that happens, your tax bill will only get bigger over time.

ISP Broadband Claims in FTC’s Crosshairs

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The FTC is looking into deceptive claims by ISPs as to Internet access, including broadband speed claims.

As much as I dislike the arrogance of larger ISP providers who hold monopolies on certain service areas (Time Warner, Comcast, etc.), the thought of the FTC investigating or fining these companies isn’t pleasant. Any associated costs will simply be passed along to you and I on our monthly bills.

Hat tip to the S.F. Chronicle.