“It is a great honor to be recognized for the public good created by this act of whistleblowing.
“However the greater reward and recognition belongs to the individuals and organizations in countless countries around the world who shattered boundaries of language and geography to stand together in defense of the public right to know, and the value of our privacy.
“It is not I, but the public, who has effected this powerful change, to abrogation of basic constitutional rights by secret agencies.
“It is not I, but newspapers around the world, who have reason to hold our governments to the issues when powerful officials sought to distract from these very issues with rumor and insult.
“And it is not I, but certain brave representatives in governments around the world who are proposing new protections, limits and safeguards to prevent future assault on our public rights and private lives.
“My gratitude belongs to all of those who have reached out to their friends and family to explain why suspicionless surveillance matters. It belongs to the man in a mask on the street on a hot day, and the woman with a sign and an umbrella in the rain, it belongs to the young people in college with a civil liberties sticker on their laptop, and the kid in the back of a class in high school making memes.
“All of these people accept that change begins with a single voice, and spoke one message to the world: governments must be accountable to us for the decisions that they make, decisions regarding the kind of world we will live in, what kind of rights and freedoms individuals will enjoy are the domain of the public, not the government in the dark.
“Yet the happiness of this occasion is for me tempered by an awareness of the road traveled to bring us here today. In contemporary America, the combination of weak legal protections for whistleblowers, bad laws that provide no public interest defense, and a doctrine of immunity for officials who have strayed beyond the boundaries of law, has perverted the system of incentives that regulate secrecy in government. This results in a situation that associates an unreasonably high price with maintaining the necessary foundation of liberal democracy: our informed citizenry.
“Speaking truth to power has cost whistleblowers their freedom, family or country. This situation befits neither America nor the world. It does not require sophistication to understand that policies equating necessary acts of warning with threats to national security inevitably lead to ignorance and insecurity. The society that falls into the deterrent trap known in cultural wisdom as ‘shooting the messenger’ will quickly find that not only is it without messengers, but it no longer enjoys messages at all.
“It is right to question the wisdom of such policies and the unintended incentives that result from them. If the penalty for providing secret information to a foreign government in bad faith is less than the penalty for providing that information to the public in good faith, are we not incentivising spies rather than whistleblowers?
“What does it mean for the public when we apply laws targeting terrorism against those engaged in acts of journalism?
“Can we enjoy openness in our society if we prioritize intimidation and revenge over fact finding and investigation?
“Where do we draw the line between national security and public interest, and how can we have confidence in the balance when the only advocates allowed at the table of review come from the halls of government itself?
“Questions such as these can only be answered through the kind of vigorous public discussion we are enjoying today. We must never forget the lessons of history regarding the dangers of surveillance gone too far, nor our human power to amend such systems to the public benefit.
“The road we travel has been difficult, but it leads us to better times. Together we can guarantee both the safety and the rights of the generations that follow. To all of those who have participated in this debate, from the highest official to the smallest citizen, I say thank you.”
Posts Tagged ‘democracy’
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 2, 2013
Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: Chaos Computer Club, constitutional rights, democracy, Edward Snowden, Jacob Applebaum, Laura Poitras, Praxis Films, privacy, surveillance, Suspicionless Surveillance, Whistleblower Award, wikipedia | 1 Comment »
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on June 4, 2012
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on May 18, 2010
Living in a democracy means that citizens are free to communicate with our government.
Opinion expressed in one letter from one constituent has long been weighted with a great deal of importance. The presumption is that if one person invests time and effort in writing a letter and posting it, there are very likely a whole bunch of people out there grumbling about the issue who simply haven’t invested the time and effort in writing. After all, not everyone is comfortable writing a letter.
I don’t know what the actual formula is, nor even where to look for it. (If anyone knows, I’d love a link.) But people who have studied this stuff have worked it out that:
X number of petition signers = Y number of letter writers = Z number of email writers
So even though 100 people might sign a petition, and another 100 people might send a letter and a third hundred people may send email, the concerns of these three different groups of people will be treated differently. Doesn’t sound very democratic, does it?
The thinking goes something like this: it takes only a few seconds to sign your name to a petition.
Therefore the idea presented by the petition may mean little or nothing to those signing it.
Maybe it is something you agree with passionately.
But maybe you just signed it as the easiest way to get the person with the petition off your back.
A petition signed by 100 people would therefore have less authority– much less– than individual letters from those same 100 people.
A form letter is going to be given less weight than an original letter, probably because the sender did not craft the letter themselves. The thinking seems to be that the sender put less work into it personally, so therefore it wasn’t important to them.
I think that is a serious error of logic. Just because some people simply aren’t letter writers, or comfortable putting their ideas down does not make their opinion less valid, it simply means that they have a different skill set than someone like me who writes endlessly.
If someone provides the words in a form letter that expresses what you think, it should be perfectly valid. As an expression of your views it should have just as much weight as an original letter. After all, FINDING the right form letter might even take even more work than writing your own. Not everyone is a writer. Your ability to participate in Canada’s democratic process should not be jeopardized by whether or not you are a confident letter writer.
In actual fact, it does not directly cost a citizen anything to mail a letter to our elected representatives. That’s a right that Canadians have based on the fact that our government is supposed to be a democracy. We are allowed to post our thoughts and ideas to our government without having to pay postage.
But if I send a physical letter, known to many in today’s world as “snail mail” because it is not as nearly instantaneous as email, the physical letter has to be collected from the pick-up point, transported to the sorting station, sorted, transported to the destination post office, sorted, and then delivered. When constituent mail arrives at the Parliament Buildings, it has to be sorted for delivery within to the office of our MP, or the Minister of Industry, or the Prime Minister, wherever it is supposed to go. The reality is of course that all of this physical handling is in fact paid for out of government coffers which come from– you guessed it– our tax dollars. So although we are not paying directly out of our pockets, we are paying indirectly out of our tax dollars for sending physical mail to our government.
Politicians also seem to put a lot less value on email letters, giving them substantially less importance than a physical letter delivered by Canada Post.
Yet writing an effective email letter is just as difficult as writing a physical letter. It takes the same amount of effort as writing a physical letter.
So why do politicians routinely devalue our email and count it as less than a physical letter? I think this differentiation is purely financial. It probably came from market research that says if a customer invests in a stamp in order to mail a letter, although small it is a financial commitment. And in today’s world we also have to figure out where we can even mail a physical letter since there are fewer post offices and mailboxes available.
When we send email to our representatives, the routing is all done electronically, but in this scenario no Canada Post physical presence is required. In fact there is no physical human labour until the last lap when presumably the email arrives at the office of the recipient. Depending on their computer skills, the letter might in fact be printed or possibly read off a screen by the person we have addressed.
But in reality, if I send an email to my elected representatives, no letter carrier has to carry it. Canada Post does not have to expend any energy in delivering my letter.
email is free (for now)
At the moment, email is pretty well free in Canada. Any Canadian who is hooked up to the Internet gets at least one free email address. But you don’t even need that anymore. Even if you don’t have an internet account, you can log onto the internet for free at a public library, or perhaps on a friend’s connection and get a free email account of your very own from hotmail or Yahoo or any one of dozens of free email providers.
The fact that email is free is is a big part of why spam is so prevalent; spam can be automatically sent to hundreds of thousands of recipients at virtually no cost. So long as one person falls for the scam or purchases the product spam will never ever go away.
Except Usage Based Billing means that everything we do online will cost money. Including email. In many cases we won’t be paying the email provider but we will be paying Bell Canada. So those of us who chose to use email will in fact be paying for the privilege of emailing our elected representatives.
Right now though, until UBB is implemented, email is still free. So it does not cost us directly OR indirectly.
My email is set up to request a delivery confirmation when I send email. That way, I get a notification that the email I have sent has been received. This is very handy in a lot of situations. Last year when I emailed politicians about an issue, some of them weren’t tech savvy enough to turn off the email confirmations. Of those, about half confirmed that my email was deleted without being read.
That’s unsettling on more than one level. The whole point of a democracy is that constituents are supposed to have access to their government. Government officials who delete constituent email without reading it are hardly behaving in a democratic manner. Although I do not reside in the electoral ridings of these MPs, in their capacity as members of the Canadians Government, they were serving on a committee deliberating about issues that will affect me. So it wasn’t simply impolite, it was a clear case of deliberately not even giving a hearing to a citizen.
What is even worse was that these same politicians who don’t understand a simple email function like automatic confirmations are making laws about Canadian access to technology. That doesn’t bode well for Canadian access to technology in the 21st century.
fiscally responsible government
Since physical mail costs the Canadian Government far more than email, they ought to be encouraging citizen email use, regardless of marketing formulas.
what goes around comes around
When we send our elected representatives email, they respond with email. When we send them physical letters they respond with physical letters.
In my experience, there is always an awfully long time before I get a response. I wonder if the intent is to wait a really long time to answer because by then I will have forgotten what I have written? Like most Canadians I keep copies of my correspondence so it doesn’t matter how long the reply takes, I can always refer back to my original letter. And the response doesn’t ever seem to actually answer my letter.
But even if we are not going to get a prompt or good response from our elected representatives, and in fact all members of our government, we still have the right to be heard. Which is why I think we should write letters to our government to tell them why Usage Based Billing is not a good thing for us. And if we send paper letter s through the mail, someone in the office has to at least open it before throwing it out. If it is email, apparently it can be deleted without being read.
Because right or wrong, politicians attach far more weight to paper letters than email.
Are you struggling to pay for the Internet now? Tell them that.
Are you making a blog or do you have a web page that you are trying out as a way to promote a home business?
Are you a creator, do you have books, music or movies that you want to distribute online?
Do you have school kids who need to access the Internet to be able to participate fully in their own education?
Are you a shut-in who can access the world through the Internet?
Are you a researcher who needs to be able to access information?
Are you one of the many Canadians who is getting their news exclusively online? Do you use Internet banking? Are you looking for work? Are you selling or are you buying? Do you download public domain ebooks from Project Gutenberg? Or FLOSS? Are you a Facebook denizen or a Twitterer?
what to write?
If you need help with wording, I have written thousands of words in this blog I have been writing since I first heard about UBB. And I’ve put every word I’ve written in this blog directly into the public domain. That gives you the right to pick and choose anything I have said to create your own letter to tell them why you think UBB should be stopped. Because I’ve been trying to make this a work of reference, I’ve listed all the blog articles in the left hand sidebar, so I hope that should help you find any appropriate bits.
Since the Minister of Industry, Tony Clement was able to overturn the bad CRTC Windmobile decision, he should also be able to overturn this bad UBB decision.
And for the same reason: it will be bad for Canada’s technological future.
write to your mp
Even if our MPs might not be very tech savvy, the Canadian Government has in fact invested oodles of money in setting up excellent internet access to all aspects of our government. Of course, when Usage Based Billing starts, it will make Canadians hesitate before using these excellent online governmental resources because we may not be able to afford them come UBB.
This excellent link will allow you to find your MP even if you don’t know who it is. This will find the MP for your riding based on your home postal code.
Find your MP
write to our government
This is an issue that will affect all of Canada, so all of our government should be aware of it. Because there is so much on the go, however, it is reasonable to assume that many of them are just as much in the dark about UBB as the rest of Canada. So it certainly wouldn’t hurt to write to all of the leaders. Should a Federal Election come to pass in the near future this could be an important issue.
The Right Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., B.A., M.A.
House of Commons
Minister of Industry
The Hon. Tony Clement, P.C., B.A., LL.B.
House of Commons
Minister of Heritage
The Hon. James Moore, P.C., B.A.
House of Commons
Michael Ignatieff, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
House of Commons
Bloc Quebecois Leader
House of Commons
[*M. Duceppe would prefer communication in French, but I’ve heard that he’s classy enough to respond to mono-lingual English speakers in English
(in other words, English would be better than a bad Google translation]
The Hon. Jack Layton, P.C., B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
House of Commons
NDP Technology Critic
House of Commons
Even though the Green Party got nearly a million votes across Canada in the last election, the green party still has not elected a single member, due to our unfair and antiquated “first past the post” electoral system. If you’re interested in working to change that issue, you might want to contact your local chapter of Fairvote Canada and participate in effecting change so that all Canadians will have a voice in our government.
In the meantime, although unelected, the Green Party Leader Elizabeth May does in fact have a larger constituency than many who hold office, so it certainly would not hurt to contact her about your UBB concerns.
The Pirate Party of Canada is brand new, but since they have come to exist in defense of copyright law and the Internet, it makes sense that they would be interested in fighting Usage Based Billing because it too will impede citizen access. Because they have not yet stood in an election and have no elected representatives, I’m pretty sure that postal mail to the Pirate Party of Canada is not free. However, you can mail them your concerns if you spring for a stamp, or head to their website and leave comments there.
The Unelected Leader of the Pirate Party of Canada
Pirate Party of Canada
43 Samson Blvd #165
Laval QC H7X 3R8
It certainly wouldn’t hurt to ferret out any smaller political parties that may exist in your riding. According to Wikipedia, there are a great many, so check it out to see a list of canadian political parties which would be an excellent starting point. The more people we have talking about Usage Based Billing the greater the possibility to stop it.
It is also possible to mail a letter to every single Member of Parliament. I would caution you about doing this by email. One person I spoke with in a Facebook CAPP forum told me that she had sent email to all of the Members of parliament during the Premature Prorogation, and had her Yahoo email account frozen because of it– because she was sending the same letter to hundreds of people, her her account flagged it as a spammer.
I suggest if you want to do something like that by email, do it in smaller increments. I’m contemplating sending them all postal mail letters. Wonder how many replies I’d get…
Canadians need to know about Usage Based Billing.
If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 10787 signatures.
If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?
That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.
Because Usage Based Billing will harm both Canadians and our Economy.
Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: Bloc Quebecois, Canada Permanent stamp, Canada Post, CAPP, Conservative, democracy, Elizabeth May, email, facebook, form letter, Gilles Duceppe, Green Party of Canada, Jack Layton, James Moore, letter writing, Liberal, Mary Pickford stamp, Michael Ignatieff, NDP, Oscar Peterson stamp, Petition, pirate party of canada, postage stamps, Stephen Harper, Tony Clement, usage based billing, WindMobile | 8 Comments »
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 7, 2009
Jesse Brown reported a very scary story How do you say “clueless” in Italian? on his Search Engine site.
Four Google execs may face jail terms because they didn’t pull an offensive video from their site BEFORE anyone complained about it.
Surprisingly, it didn’t seem to be a very big story, yet it is a perfect illustration of the incredible danger facing the internet. There is no way that large busy websites or the ISPs that host them can possibly monitor all of the material that is uploaded to the internet without seriously curtailing what is being uploaded to the internet.
For instance, when logging into Flickr I am told:
“There were 2,710 uploads in the last minute ”
Thousands of people upload images to Flickr every minute. It would take thousands of people to screen those images. If Flickr was forced to hire thousands of people to police the images members upload to the site, suddenly what Clay Shirky calls “ the transaction cost” would stop being nearly nil because the cost to maintain Flickr would skyrocket. It is doubtful that Flickr or YouTube or any other wildly successful website could cope with this without going bust.
Wikipedia, for example, has many people all over the world contributing articles and changing other people’s articles all the time. You would think that this would result in all kinds of internet vandalism happening. But it doesn’t. Sometimes people make mistakes, and the way Wikipedia works is that other people can fix those mistakes, And they do. And Wikipedia users also correct deliberate misinformation or vandalism. So even if someone attempts to do a bad thing and vandalize wikipedia articles or disseminate misinformation on Wikipedia, Wikipedia is policed by its own editor/users.
As soon as anyone complains to Google, or YouTube, or Flickr about offensive content, the content is taken down. Now, I have to tell you, even though I am not by any means a young pup, in terms of understanding the internet, “I am only an Egg.” The internet we know today didn’t exist twenty years ago.
Like most people, I’ve been busy, so I wasn’t paying very much attention. Every now and then some new toy or gizmo having to do with computers would pop up — like iphones or ebooks or blackberrys. Or some new uber-cool thing like blogging or facebook or twitter or VOIP would suddenly be everywhere. And we can’t forget endless tales and dreams of dot com millionaires. The way the wold works has been changing very very fast. Six months ago I had no idea what Usage Based Billing was. About two months ago I started writing a simple little article explaining the mechanics of how the internet works. It turned out to be incredibly difficult to learn, let alone explain and mushroomed into “the alphabet series”. Simple? No, and the more I learn the more important I realize Net Neutrality is.
So I do understand why most people don’t even realize that this stuff is going on, or even that it matters. But the thing is that the internet has been slowly growing up and becoming more important in the world, and at the same time a much larger force for change. Which is why it is so important that there be Net Neutrality. Because the internet has come so far so fast it is especially important that it not be turned against it’s users.
Alongside Net Neutrality people in this brave new world are also talking about file sharing, “3 Strikes laws” and ACTA. Terms like piracy and theft are being hurled around and “copyright infringement” has been elevated to a near executable offense.
It is no secret that governments around the world have been lobbied long and hard by the “copyright lobby” large media corporations, music and movie companies who are attempting to legislate prograss back into the twentieth century and change the way we think. They have been turning their media might into a propoaganda tool of epic proportions. Because of the incredible power that they can bring to bear, copyright laws around the world are being changed to appease these lobbyists.
Copyright law “improvements” enrich the lives of Americans
An inflammatory Chicago Sun Times headline reads Woman arrested for trying to record ‘Twilight’ on digital camera. The article recounts a story about a young woman who is being criminally charged– to the same extent and in the the same way a professional bootlegger would be charged– for recording scenes of her sister’s birthday party at the movies. The video picked up about 4 minutes of movie fragments. This is the equivalent of charging a teenager with one joint as a drug dealer, or the child who swiped a tempting lollipop from the grocery store with grand theft. It is simply not reasonable.
I’ve taken photographs of family and friends on special occasion trips to the movies. I’ve made videotapes of birthday parties. If you make a video of a child’s birthday party and a movie or video game was playing on the TV in the background, you too could be criminally charged. Under ACTA what will happen when you email a copy of this copyright infringing video to Grannie in England? Will she be fined or jailed or will you?
These laws are already absurd. And then… here comes ACTA.
All of the citizens of the world are being deliberately excuded from all ACTA negotiations. President Obama, so recently praised for his commitment to Net Neutrality, believes this to be a matter of National Security.
There is a huge difference between “personal use copying” and “commercial bootlegging” which the copyright lobby is lumping together as “piracy”. This is all a wrongheaded attempt to legislate away progress. Instead of trying to adapt with the technology, the copyright lobby has chosen to pour millions (billions?) into lobbying for this legislation that will not in fact do anything to stop commercial bootlegging. To give the appearance of doing something they instead choose to criminalize the mostly young citizens who are not harming this special interest group. Personally, I would rather see the best and brightest of Canada’s younger generation find themselves in universities rather than jail.
ACTA is bad. Very Very Bad.
Growing up I learned a lot from “Hollywood”.
Like most Canadians of my generation TV and Movies gave me a better understanding of the American legal system than the Canadian.
Hollywood taught me that:
- free enterprise is admirable.
- free speech is important
- individuals have rights
- democracy is good, and good government is responsive to the wishes of the citizens
- communism is bad, because the government spies on its citizens
- a person should be considered innocent until proven guilty
Apparently that was all just “content”. ACTA makes it pretty clear that Hollywood’s true objective is for governments around the world to:
- suppress free speech,
- shackle their competitors,
- dismantle democracy,
- spy on citizens and
- throw out the rule of law to punish people on the basis of unsubstantiated accusations.
The saddest part is that it isn’t for some misguided ideological reason that they think will improve the world. This is pure greed.
“Canada and its international trading partners each have distinct copyright policies, laws and approaches for addressing the challenges and opportunities of the internet. Canada’s current framework provides strong intellectual property protections and our copyright laws apply in the digital context, including on the internet. Moreover, Canada’s regime for
the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights is fully consistent with its international obligations.”
Somehow Canada continues to participate in the secret ACTA treaty negotiations.
“Secret ACTA negotiations would criminalize Canadian internet use” says New Democrat Digital Issues Critic Charlie Angus, who demanded that Tony Clement reveal the ACTA negotiation mandate letter. Tony Clement Responds To Concerns That ACTA Will Circumvent Canadian Copyright Law
Ambassador Kirk: People would be “walking away from the table” if the ACTA text is made public . Maybe that is what should be happening.
Bytestyle TV’s Shelly Roche tells us a few things about ACTA, including the fact that it is being undertaken as an executive order, and therefore will not require ratification by the U.S. Congress. If it’s any consolation, American citizens are being kept just as much in the dark as Canadians, and, well, every other country in the world. ACTA: Internet Users Guilty Until Proven Innocent and ACTA: Will Corporate-Run US Government Destroy the Internet?
The Electronic Freedom Foundation Senator Bayh Responds on ACTA illustrates just how badly informed Americans (including Senators) are about ACTA.
Fortunately all Senators weren’t created equal. Senators blast Obama’s secret trade talks as Fox head calls for ‘3 strikes’
Where Paolo Brini passed along the news that the ACTA “negotiations now are not compliant with the Lisbon Treaty, which has come into force the 1st of December” EU negotiators show too many incompatibilities between ACTA and EU laws and Telecoms Package: 3-strikes forbidden in Europe He says further that “The agreement between the Council and the Parliament led to a new amendment which clearly forbids 3-strikes, in the sense meant by ACTA, and restrictions to fundamental rights without following very precise parameters (not respected by ACTA).”
Jamie Love’s blast from the past: Seven Secret ACTA documents from 2008 which includes the link to a PDF of the “Canada Non-Paper on institutional issues under the Agreement” is then discussed in Howard Knopf’s EXCESS COPYRIGHT: Canadian Proposal for ACTA Secretariat
Wired Magazine weighs in with the Threat Level column: Privacy, Crime and Security Online Report: U.S. Fears Public Scrutiny Would Scuttle IP Treaty Talks
New Zealand would like to know: Dunne: What are we signing up to, Mr Power? – 4 December 2009
Last week on BoingBoing Cory Doctorow passed along Javier “Barrapunto” Candeira’s information on the Spanish activists issue manifesto on the rights of Internet users which was created to battle the proposed suspension of due process “in the name of ‘safeguarding Intellectual Property Laws against Internet Piracy.”
1 .- Copyright should not be placed above citizens’ fundamental rights to privacy, security, presumption of innocence, effective judicial protection and freedom of expression.
2 .- Suspension of fundamental rights is and must remain an exclusive competence of judges. This blueprint, contrary to the provisions of Article 20.5 of the Spanish Constitution, places in the hands of the executive the power to keep Spanish citizens from accessing certain websites.
3 .- The proposed laws would create legal uncertainty across Spanish IT companies, damaging one of the few areas of development and future of our economy, hindering the creation of startups, introducing barriers to competition and slowing down its international projection.
4 .- The proposed laws threaten creativity and hinder cultural development. The Internet and new technologies have democratized the creation and publication of all types of content, which no longer depends on an old small industry but on multiple and different sources.
5 .- Authors, like all workers, are entitled to live out of their creative ideas, business models and activities linked to their creations. Trying to hold an obsolete industry with legislative changes is neither fair nor realistic. If their business model was based on controlling copies of any creation and this is not possible any more on the Internet, they should look for a new business model.
6 .- We believe that cultural industries need modern, effective, credible and affordable alternatives to survive. They also need to adapt to new social practices.
7 .- The Internet should be free and not have any interference from groups that seek to perpetuate obsolete business models and stop the free flow of human knowledge.
8 .- We ask the Government to guarantee net neutrality in Spain, as it will act as a framework in which a sustainable economy may develop.
9 .- We propose a real reform of intellectual property rights in order to ensure a society of knowledge, promote the public domain and limit abuses from copyright organizations.
10 .- In a democracy, laws and their amendments should only be adopted after a timely public debate and consultation with all involved parties. Legislative changes affecting fundamental rights can only be made in a Constitutional law.
The Spanish government withdrew the draft law that would have legalized punishment without due process.
[this is only a smattering of the websites bearing the manifesto… a Google search shows “de aproximadamente 351,000 de manifiesto en defensa de los derechos fundamentales en internet”]
and the list goes on….
Talk about this.
And please, contact your MP, Prime Minister Harper as well as the Honourable Ministers Clement and Moore.
Because ACTA is bad. Very very bad.
Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: 3 strikes law, ACTA, blackberry, blogging, bootlegging, Bytestyle TV, Canada Non-Paper on institutional issues under the Agreement, Charlie Angus, Chicago Sun-Times, copyright, Daily Finance, democracy, ebooks, Excess Copyright, facebook, flickr, google, Gorky Park, hollywood, Howard Knopf, i t world canada, iphones, James Love, Jesse Brown, Knowledge Ecology International, Lisbon Treaty, Michael Geist, Movimento ScambioEtico, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Net Neutrality, Paolo Brini, piracy, President Obama, propaganda, Russell McOrmond, Sam Gustin, search engine, secret treaty, Shelly Roche, Spanish rights of Internet users manifesto, The Electronic Freedom Foundation, To Kill A Mockingbird, Tony Clement, Twilight, twitter, United Future, usage based billing, voip, wikipedia, Wired Magazine, YouTube | 13 Comments »
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on October 19, 2009
Last Friday Michael Geist posted a chilling story about the The Copyright Lobby’s Secret Pressure On the Anti-Spam Bill which looked at how Bill C-27: The Electronic Commerce Protection Act, a piece of legislation touted as the “anti-spam” law, which was in danger of being dramatically altered at the last minute. If these tabled changes are made, instead of protecting Canadians from spam and spyware, the law would legalize a number of very frightening things. Not least of which would be Canadian governmental blessing to allowing corporations to assume law enforcement capabilities without the restraints of due process which our law enforcement agencies currently operate within.
Currently Canadian Law enforcement agencies have rules to follow. The RCMP can’t simply decide to break down someone’s door and sieze their possessions because they feel like it. Canadian Law has a history of protecting Canadian Citizens from Malicious Prosecution.
Yet the language of the proposed law quoted by Professor Geist was granting broad powers to telecom providers, namely:
“providing computer security, user account management, routing and transmission of messages, diagnostics, technical support, repair, network management, network maintenance, authorized updates of software or system firmware, authorized remote system management,and detection or prevention of the unauthorized, fraudulent or illegal use of a network, service, or computer software, including scanning for and removing computer programs”
Of course most of what is included there isn’t bad stuff, it’s really “detection or prevention of the unauthorized, fraudulent or illegal use of a network, service, or computer software,” that is incredibly broad. Why is a company that connects the wires to connect Canadian to the internet suddenly charged with detecting and preventing crime?
What is unnerving is the next bit, the fact that telecom providers are also given the authority for “scanning for and removing computer programs”. In laymans terms, this means that if Canadian’s connect to the internet Bell Canada et al have the power to decide if Canadians are doing something illega, and if they think we are– nothing anywhere about proof, mind– they will also have the right to remove software from our computers.
What an incredible amount of power to gift to corporate entities. Whatever the reasoning for allowing this, that is truly frightening.
This goes far beyond the cases where electricity carriers reported instances of sudden increased electricity consumption to law enforcement to facilitate apprehension of criminals. The news story that stuck in my mind was the one where the Emergency Response Team broke in the door and frightened the daylights out of the elderly folks living there. Turned out that the criminals had tapped into these people’s connection. Wasn’t the criminals who got roughed up, though.
The most frightening difference here is the idea that the law doesn’t just ask the telecom providers to keep their eyes open and report suspicious activity, the law tells them to detect it, and even worse, act on it. All on their own.
This would essentially give our telecom providers — Bell/Telus/Rogers/Shaw/Sasktel– total control of the internet and every computer connected to it. This would give them absolute authority to act as police, judge, jury and executioner. This would unquestionably slam an iron curtain around Canadian internet use. Maybe that particularly frightens me because some of my ancestors fled the Russian Revolution to settle in Canada so they could live in freedom.
So for myself and my family, I do not want to see that happen. Since so much of the world’s work is either on or moving toward the internet, allowing so much power over a nation’s freedom to commercial business is mind boggling. And no, it hasn’t happened yet, but they might pass the law, complete with last minute amendments as early as today.
So I dis what I could to spead the word in my own little corner of the internet universe by talking about this danger in my blogs. But instead of just complaining about it, I also did what members of a democracy are supposed to do– and in a healthy democracy enouraged to do — I articulated my concerns and sent them to the people who are actually working on passing this law.
More Chilling Still
One of the amazing and great things about the internet is the speed of it. When we send email, it arrives where its going almost instantly. Another really cool thing is “return receipts”. So what I’ve been getting is automatic responses.
These are the is the results so far:
My MP, who is not on the committee, at least reads his email. Or someone does.
Harold Albrecht, MP AlbreH@parl.gc.ca – Your message was read on October 19, 2009 8:49:01 AM (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada).
The Commitee working on passing Bill C-27: The Electronic Commerce Protection Act
Tony Clement – ClemeT@parl.gc.ca Your message was read on October 18, 2009 8:54:08 AM (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada).
Marc Garneau – Garneau.M@parl.gc.ca Your message was deleted without being read on October 19, 2009 11:26:13 AM (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada).
Robert Bouchard – BouchR@parl.gc.ca Votre message a été supprimé sans être lu le lundi 19 octobre 2009 09:19:48 (GMT-05:00) Est (É.-U. et Canada).
(Babelfish Translation: Your message was removed without being read on Monday October 19, 2009 09:19: 48 (GMT-05: 00) Is (E. – U. and Canada).
Robert Vincent – VinceR0@parl.gc.ca Votre message a été lu le lundi 19 octobre 2009 09:09:36 (GMT-05:00) Est (É.-U. et Canada).
(Babelfish Translation: Your message was read on Monday October 19, 2009 09:09: 36 (GMT-05: 00) Is (E. – U. and Canada).
What does this tell me?
Of the elected members of parliament who sit on the committee, two of the four automatic responses tell me that my message was deleted without being read.
Is this what passes for democracy in Canada now?
post script: Sadly we have a tie-breaker:
Mike Wallace – WallaM@parl.gc.ca Your message was deleted without being read on October 19, 2009 3:32:39 PM (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada).