Big Brother gets Bigger in Canada

Breitbart.com
February 14, 2012

(Via AFP) Canada’s government Tuesday introduced a bill to give law enforcement authorities sweeping powers to probe online communications, but the move sparked criticism about threats to privacy.

“New technologies provide new ways of committing crimes, making them more difficult to investigate,” Justice Minister Rob Nicholsontold a press conference in unveiling the measure.

“This legislation will enable authorities to keep pace with rapidly changing technology.”

 Opposition parties and civil liberties groups, however, said new police powers contained in the bill could result in unreasonable searches and seizures.

Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, whose office is independent from the government, said in a letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews last October she had “deep concerns” about the proposed changes, which she said could have “serious repercussions for privacy rights.

“I recognize that rapid developments in communication technologies are creating new challenges for law enforcement and national security authorities and that the Internet cannot be a lawless zone,” Stoddart said.

But “by expanding the legal tools of the state to conduct surveillance and access private information, and by reducing the depth of judicial scrutiny… (the bill would allow the) government to subject more individuals to surveillance and scrutiny.”

Further more it goes “far beyond simply maintaining investigative capacity or modernizing search powers. Rather, (it) added significant new capabilities for investigators to track, and search and seize digital information about individuals.”

The legislation would require telecommunications service providers to set up systems that allow police or Canada’sspy service to intercept communications as part of their investigations.

As well, they would be required to provide subscriber information to authorities and other data that would allow police to track suspects using a cell phone or a computer.

Toews in parliament insisted the newest draft of the bill balances law enforcement needs and privacy rights, but Stoddart’s office told AFPher concerns remain.

 

Goodbye to the Free Internet

U.S. Feds Warrantlessly Tracking Americans’ Credit Cards in Real Time…

Washington Times

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is poised to add the Internet to its portfolio of regulated industries. The agency’s chairman, Julius Genachowski, announced Wednesday that he circulated draft rules he says will “preserve the freedom and openness of the Internet.” No statement could better reflect the gulf between the rhetoric and the reality of Obama administration policies.

With a straight face, Mr. Genachowski suggested that government red tape will increase the “freedom” of online services that have flourished because bureaucratic busybodies have been blocked from tinkering with the Web. Ordinarily, it would be appropriate at this point to supply an example from the proposed regulations illustrating the problem. Mr. Genachowski‘s draft document has over 550 footnotes and is stamped “non-public, for internal use only” to ensure nobody outside the agency sees it until the rules are approved in a scheduled Dec. 21 vote. So much for “openness.”

The issue of “net neutrality” is nothing new, but the increasing popularity of online movie streaming services like Netflix have highlighted an area of potential concern. When someone watches a film over the Internet, especially in high definition, the maximum available capacity of the user’s connection is used. Think, for example, of the problems that would arise at the water works if everyone decided to turn on their faucets and take a shower simultaneously. Internet providers are beginning to see the same strain on their networks.

In some cases, heavy use of this sort slows the Web experience for everyone sharing the same lines. That has prompted some cable Internet providers to consider either charging the heavy users more or limiting access to the “problematic” services. Of course, if cinema buffs find themselves cut off from their favorite service, they’re going to be mad. If companies don’t act, they’re just as likely to find irate customers who don’t want their experience bogged down by others.

It’s not clear why the FCC thinks it needs to intervene in a situation with obvious market solutions. Companies that impose draconian tolls or block services will lose customers. Existing laws already offer a number of protections against anti-competitive behavior, but it’s not clear under what law Mr. Genachowski thinks he can stick his nose into the businesses that comprise the Internet. The FCC regulates broadcast television and radio because the government granted each station exclusive access to a slice of the airwaves. Likewise when Ma Bell accepted a monopoly deal from Uncle Sam, it came with regulatory strings attached.

No such rationale applies online, especially because bipartisan majorities in Congress have insisted on maintaining a hands-off policy. A federal appeals court confirmed this in April by striking down the FCC‘s last attempt in this arena. “That was sort of like the quarterback being sacked for a 20-yard loss,” FCC Commissioner Robert M. McDowell told The Washington Times. “And now the team is about to run the exact same play. … In order for the FCC to do this, it needs for Congress to give it explicit statutory authority to do so.”

Freedom and openness should continue to be the governing principles of the Internet. That’s why Mr. Genachowski‘s proposal should be rejected and Congress should make it even more clear that the FCC should stop trying to expand its regulatory empire.

Related Article:

U.S. Government Violating Limits in Spying