interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘Tony Clement’

Broadband Power for the People?

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on March 18, 2011

No Usage Based Billing

The Internet Billing Upheaval in Canada

By Arthur Czuma

CRTC logo
The year 2011 appears destined for revolutions. As Egyptians, Libyans, and others demonstrate across the Middle East and North Africa, Canadians are unleashing a quieter storm of their own. Hundreds of thousands have signed an online petition that calls for rescinding a new Internet billing policy that would eliminate price caps and bring usage-based charges. Striking the policy would help protect the interests of Canadian consumers – and the government seems to be listening. A senior government official indicated that if the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) does not reverse its controversial ruling, then the Cabinet would do so.

New Per-Gigabyte Charges

The policy, which would take effect on March 31, centers on the amount of data that consumers can view or download and for what expense. Not surprisingly, it’s the bigger ISPs that support the new fees supported by the policy. Many have already been charging users in accordance with how much data they access – and now, the new law would have smaller ISPs do the same. That’s because smaller ISPs lease bandwidth from larger telecommunications firms such as Bell Canada, Rogers Communications, and Shaw Communications. Despite their small size, the lesser-known ISPs (Internet service providers) have typically been providing both greater bandwidth and lower fees than have the bigger ISPs such as Bell and TELUS.

Small ISPs Scoff at “Wholesale” Rate

Netflix logo
The larger telecom firms are mandated by government to lease their bandwidth to smaller ISPs and resellers. However, until now, they were prohibited from passing per-gigabyte fees on to these customers. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has attempted to placate small providers by granting them a 15% discount on cable and telecom companies’ retail rates – but the small ISPs are less than impressed with this wholesale rate. In fact, many regard it as just another retail price. From the perspective of small business, the discount is hardly compensation for the new power imbalance: it merely slows the journey toward an Internet oligopoly or monopoly.

The large companies, in turn, cite their right to manage their networks – and they claim that flat-rate Internet pricing is no longer viable. Bell Canada raised the issue in 2009 as iTunes, YouTube, Netflix, and other online video and video game providers contributed to rapid growth in online traffic. But that’s a hard argument to swallow: according to the CRTC’s own data, just as some large providers have been charging for “excessive” traffic for years, smaller ISPs have offered plans with literally hundreds of times the bandwidth, if not unlimited service, at a lower cost.

Tony Clement

Minister of Industry, Tony Clement

Canadians Take Action

The question of exactly what is the just balance between fostering competition and granting corporate rights will always be up for debate. For now, however, it seems that Canadians have drawn a line in the sand. In addition to more than 465,000 having signed a “Mind the Cap” petition online, tens of thousands have written to the Minister of Industry to protest the imposition of usage-billed Internet billing. And as back-up, the Canadian Network Operators Consortium, a group of more than 20 ISPs, is considering its legal options if the Conservative government does not revoke the CRTC ruling. A senior official acknowledged that the billing is “a bread-and-butter issue” and would be treated as such.

Canadian Flag

The Numbers

Many Canadians currently have Internet plans that charge for using an excess of 25 gigabytes per month. That’s equivalent to watching about five Netflix movies or downloading about six video games. It’s certainly not enough for many people’s entertainment needs, nor is it sufficient to help get a small business established or draw innovative services. For instance, a data cap would stymie the expansion of Netflix, the online video company that recently started offering unlimited movie rentals for about C$8 per month.

A Contagious Revolution?

By striking down the decision, the government will enable the small ISPs to remain competitive and thereby help bring a variety of affordable Internet options to Canadians. At the same time, eliminating caps will help attract innovative digital entrepreneurs to the Canadian economy. It’s inspirational – and if US Americans would pay attention, perhaps the Canadian revolution could spread stateside. Regardless of their political stripes, fair Internet pricing is something that just about every consumer can stand for.



Distributel logo
About the author

Arthur Czuma is a writer and consultant for several Ontario-based businesses including Distributel, a local ISP.



It’s not over yet.

Usage Based Billing has NOT been cancelled, only postponed.

The CRTC is not doing their job, but rather doing a disservice to Canada.

If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 15027 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 not only Canadians, but our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

You can also call or write your MP, MP postal code look-up

Heritage Minister James Moore – email: Moore.J@parl.gc.ca

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email: Clemet1@parl.gc.ca

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca

After all, they work for us, don’t they?

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Write Letters to Stop UBB

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on May 18, 2010

No Usage Based Billing

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.
envelopes and fancy stationary

the formula

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?

Canada Post canceled Royal Canadian Military College stamp

petitions

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.

Canada Post Mary Pickford Stamp

form letters

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.

Canada Post canceled Yousuf Karsh stamp

postal mail

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.

email

Canada Post Permanent Stamp

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.

Canada Post Permanent Stamp

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.

politicians

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.

Canada Post Permanent Stamp

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.

Canada Post 160 stamp - orange flower

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.

why write?

Are you struggling to pay for the Internet now? Tell them that.

Canada Post Oscar Peterson cancelled Stamp

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?
Tell them.

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.

Canada Post Red flowers 50 cent cancelled stamp

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

cancelled Canada Post 51 cent stamp with 2 red flowers

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.

Conservative Party of Canada logo

Prime Minister
The Right Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., B.A., M.A.
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Minister of Industry
The Hon. Tony Clement, P.C., B.A., LL.B.
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Minister of Heritage
The Hon. James Moore, P.C., B.A.
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Liberal Leader
Michael Ignatieff, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Bloc Quebecois Leader
Gilles Duceppe
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
[*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]

NDP Party of Canada

NDP Leader
The Hon. Jack Layton, P.C., B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

NDP Technology Critic
Charlie Angus
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

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.

Green Party LogoUnelected leader of the Green Party
Elizabeth May
The Green Party of Canada

Contact the green party of canada

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 Canadapirate party of canada
Jake Daynes
Pirate Party of Canada
43 Samson Blvd #165
Laval QC H7X 3R8

A graphic of fireworks on a Canada Post Permanent Stamp

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.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

We Interrupt this Prorogue….

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on January 21, 2010

No Usage Based BillingBoy, was I surprised to be flashed with n email notification from Industry Canada.

(Particularly as I have not always been… er… most charitable to The Honourable Tony Clement.)

However, the email bearing his name bears repeating, so I’ll just pop it in entire:

Subject: Regulated access to wholesale telecommunications services
From:Minister.Industry@ic.gc.ca

Thank you for your e-mail expressing your concerns regarding regulated access to wholesale telecommunications services.
The MTS Allstream LogoAs you may be aware, three petitions to the Governor in Council have been filed, appealing several decisions of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Each decision concerns the extent that the large former monopoly telephone companies (e.g., Bell Canada) are required to provide competitors with wholesale services at regulated rates and terms. MTS Allstream has appealed Telecom Decision CRTC 2008-117 and Telecom Regulatory Policy 2009-34, and is seeking more stringent wholesale rules. Bell and TELUS have each appealed Telecom Decision CRTC 2008-117 and Telecom Order CRTC 2009-111, and have requested that certain wholesale obligations be removed.
Bell Canada Logo
The public record of these appeals is available under “Gazette Notices and Petitions” on Industry Canada’s Spectrum Management and elecommunications website at ic.gc.ca/spectrum. You will find electronic copies of the petitions, public comments made by interested parties, and links to the CRTC decisions under appeal.

CRTCUnder the Telecommunications Act, Cabinet can decide to take action in response to a petition by varying (changing) the decision, referring it back to the CRTC for reconsideration or rescinding the decision. Cabinet can also decide not to intervene and let the CRTC decision remain in place. The government’s powers to intervene expire one year from the date of the decision in question. Given that the matter is still under consideration by Cabinet, it would not be appropriate for me to comment at this time.

Once again, thank you for writing. I trust that this information is helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Clement

Interesting.


When Cabinet overturned the ill advised CRTC WIND Mobile decision, much ado was made of the idea that Cabinet interference in CRTC doings was in fact a one time thing.   The second last paragraph of Tony Clement’s letter today rather strongly indicates otherwise.

Very interesting.

Prorogue or no, seems that Mr. Clement is out there working.


Sign the Petition:
http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Wind Mobile: The Canadian Government Listened

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 15, 2009

WINDmobile

New Kids

No Usage Based BillingYou could have knocked me over with a feather.

The Canadian Government actually listened to Canadians

On Friday Industry Minister Tony Clement overturned the CRTC decision to deny Wind Mobile the use of the spectrum they purchased. Instead, Globalive’s WindMobile now has the opportunity to roll out their new cel phone service.

Canadian Cel Phone Service

Canadian cel phone costs… ooof.   And have you noticed how every Canadian seems to have at least one cel phone horror story.   I haven’t heard anything good about the state of Canadian cel phone service– except from those who are profiting from the cel phone incumbents.

The Canadian government looked at Canadian Cel Phone service and realized that Canadians were paying through the nose. Our government decided to attempt to remedy the situation by auctioning some cel spectrum on which the incumbents would not be allowed to bid. The point was to introduce new players. The hope was to trigger competition.
Canada Flag
Which could only be good for Canadian consumers.

Vetted by Industry Canada, Globalive’s Wind Mobile was allowed to bid in the spectrum auction— because they had been approved.   They paid their money then went on to lay out piles of cash to set up operations and hire staff and create advertising; they were gearing up to go.

Even before Wind Mobile opened for business strange things began happening in the world of Canadian cel phone service.   Some of the incumbents began changing some of their worst policies.   After all, they were about to be faced with actual competition in the cel phone market.   What a concept!

Canadian consumers were happy…

Of course, the incumbent Cel providers were not.   They complained to their friends at the CRTC.   They said that Wind Mobile is not Canadian enough.

CRTC listened to the complaint, and decided that Wind Mobile was not Canadian enough.   Even though as near as I can tell, Wind Mobile is a Canadian company run by Canadians. They have foreign investment capital. Most businesses require investment capital. Just as most people need financing to buy a home. Just becasue a bank starts out holding the mortgage doesn’t make it the banks’s house.

Even though Wind Mobile had paid the Canadian government millions for the cel spectrum they had won in the auction, as well as spending plenty more for the business start up, suddenly Wind Mobile was in limbo.   Talk began to float around about how the incumbents would now be able to buy the Wind Mobile spectrum   —   at bankruptcy prices.

…thoughts of competition had danced in our heads

Canadian consumers were not happy to have the competition we wanted snatched away.   There was grumbling.   And muttering. Many voices were raised in opposition to this CRTC decision.   Many voices.   For instance, I muttered and grumbled in this very blog.   And I was not the only one.   One of the things I read and heard over and over again were complaints about the lack of “Canadianess” of our Canadian Cel phone providers. (Although some of them operate under more than one name, which may be confusing the CRTC into thinking that there is lots of competition, there are really only 3 Canadian cel providers, the “incumbents”… Bell, Rogers and Telus.
Bell Canada Logo
Although these companies are “Canadian”, Bell Canada, for instance, has shut down much of their operations on Canadian soil in order to set up operations overseas so they don’t need to spend as much money.   (Not that they passed any of this savings along to consumers, you understand.)

Wind Mobile’s head honcho Tony Lacavera fought the CRTC decision.   He gave interviews in the mainstream media so Canadians knew what was happening.   He appealed to Industry Canada. They had after all given him the go ahead, and all the costs Globalive had incurred to start up Wind Mobile were done in good faith.   He took it to the Canadian Cabinet.

[We’re in a recession!   Here are Canadian entrepreneurs bringing a huge investment into Canada.   And the CRTC is telling them to go away?   Do they not live in the same world you and I do?]

Most amazingly of all, our government listened.   Industry Minister Tony Clement overturned the CRTC ruling Friday December 11th, 2009.

Globalive Welcomes Gov’t of Canada Decision and Prepares to Bring WIND Mobile to Market in time for Christmas.

BRAVO!

Imagine my surprise to read this diatribe Telco decision violates Telecommunications Act: Union from Canada’s “largest telecom and media union” criticizing the Canadian Government’s decision.   I would have thought that a union of telecom and media workers would support new investment in Canada’s telecom industry.   Instead they are parroting the Incumbent Cel phone companies.

Am I naive in thinking that a union representing telecom workers would welcome a company that could offer jobs to the many telecom workers who lost their jobs due to downsizing or when Bell moved so much of their operations overseas?   If I was a member of this union I would be wondering whose side CEP is on.

Critics of Mr. Clement’s decision are citing foreign ownership as the problem.

Is foreign ownership bad for Canadian culture?

I have a hard time believing foreign ownership of a phone company could have much impact on Canadian culture.   The only change in our culture I can envision is that griping about our cel phone providers may no longer be a national pastime.

If you want to know about culture, let’s just take a quick peek at the “Canadian Music Industry”. The four primary members of the Canadian Recording Industry Association are: Warner Music Canada, Sony BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada, and Universal Music Canada. Please note that all four have “Canada” appended to their names to differentiate them from the non-Canadian mother companies, Warner Music Group, Sony Music, EMI Music, and Universal Music. For decades the Canadian music industry has been dominated by “branch plants” of foreign companies.

Foreign domination of our music industry has been the reality accepted by Canadians since the mid twentieth century.

And let’s not forget that once upon a time the Canadian Parliament passed a special law incorporating a largely foreign owned company– Bell Canada — as a Canadian Corporation.   Isn’t it about time our telecommunication industry got some new blood?

Wind Mobile could hardly do worse than the incumbents.


I don’t know about you, but I still believe one of the best things for Canada would be the dissolution of the CRTC, so
If you haven’t yet: Sign the Petition, check it out at:

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/
10316 signatures

and if you have, tell everyone who will be affected by increased internet costs

stop usage based billing logo

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

A.C.T.A. is BAD

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 7, 2009

Hollywood taught me about Democracy

Jesse Brown reported a very scary story How do you say “clueless” in Italian? on his Search Engine site.

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

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.

Why now?

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.

Hollywood taught me spying on citizens is bad.

Hollywood taught me spying on citizens is bad

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.

Hollywood Influences

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

BUT.

Hollywood taught me "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.

ACTA links

“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.”

The Honourable Tony Clement, The Hill Times – Canada’s Politics and Government Newsweekly

YET.

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.

Russell McOrmond tells us about:

Word manipulation, hypocrisy, and the so-called Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in it world.

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’

Michael Geist brings us: EU ACTA Analysis Leaks: Confirms Plans For Global DMCA, Encourage 3 Strikes Model

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.

Spanish Blogroll:

[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….

Bravo Spain.

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.

STOP Usage Based Billing

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Anti-Spam Bill morphs into Secret Spyware Bill

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on October 18, 2009

[Note: This is not specifically a Usage Based Billing problem, but it certainly needs some attention.  Also I don’t usually re-post so much of anyone else’s posts, but since time is short and disseminating this information is so important, I’m doing a lot of cutting & pasting here. Some of my thoughts are interspersed between the quotes… quite frankly this still feels surreal. I am just amazed that this could really be happening. I shouldn’t be but I am.]

Oh! Canada

Oh! Canada

CANADA, we have a problem…

Bill C-27: The Electronic Commerce Protection Act

It started with our government’s attempt to pass anti-spam legislation. Seems like a good idea, right? Harmless enough. What can go wrong?

But wait– we’re talking about politicians here. So…

Seems there’s a problem with The Canadian Marketing Association. Well, yes, they’ve known about it and didn’t have a problem as long as its been in the works… since June. Hey, they’ve only had four months to mull it over… so, well, they’ve changed their minds now. Since the law will probably pass on Monday, the Canadian Marketing Association Attacks Anti-Spam Bill.

Well, that’s not too much of a surprise, is it? I mean. this is a marketing lobby group. Of COURSE they want to be able to send as much spam as possible. Um.

Well hey, they only want one little change… they just want to rip the heart out of it, that’s all. The core of the proposed legislation is “a requirement for express opt-in consent”, in other words, it is illegal to send us spam without first getting our permission. This, after all, is the whole point of the law. They want it changed to give them the right to send us as much spam as they can until we tell them “no.”

Well, we’ve all seen how effective the CRTC telephone marketing “Do Not Call List” worked out. Thousands of people on the Do Not Call list, thousands of complaints, yet the CRTC could only find it in their hearts to find fault with three telemarketers, and then backed out of prosecuting two of them. (By this point I’d bet the third guy walked too…) Uh huh. So, no, I don’t think there is any point to even bothering, if they disembowel the legislation, right?

So Professer Geist’s take on it is that we have to fight for it if we actually want a law with teeth. He also provides a lits of links to the committee that is supposed to be getting this law passed, with the suggestion that we email all of these good folks and let them know how we feel about eviscerating the law.

So today is Friday, time for weekend wind down to get started… but wait. I’ve been looking forward to getting my next alphabet post finished and on line, but this annoying but not particularly urgent story about C-27 isn’t such a big deal except…

it turns out that was just a sideshow… the main event is far more chilling..

In Michael Geist’s sidebar:

“ RT @doctorow: CANADIANS! Hollywood & telcos want right to install spyware, delete apps, snoop; contact MPs TODAY! ”

Both Michael Geist and Cory Doctorow are clearly agitated about something that sounds like it is straight out of Little Brother.

You can read it on boingboing:
boingboing: Telcos and Hollywood ask Canadian govt for right to secretly install spyware, listen in on your network connection — ACT NOW!

You can read it on Michael Geist’s blog:
Michael Geist: The Copyright Lobby’s Secret Pressure On the Anti-Spam Bill

But this isn’t fiction, it is happening in Canada RIGHT NOW.

So instead of doing what I planned to do with my life today, I’m plunging into this incredible …conspiracy. That sounds so absurd, like bad fiction.

Here’s my attempt at making sense of this. This Copyright pressure group is trying to influence Canadian anti-spam legislation:

“The copyright lobby’s interest in the bill has been simmering since its introduction, with lobbyists attending the committee hearings and working with Liberal and Bloc MPs to secure changes. The two core concerns arise from fears that the bill could prevent surreptitious use of DRM and block enforcement initiatives that might involve accessing users’ personal computers without their permission.”
–Michael Geist

This is incredible. Who’d a thought?

Turns out Bill C-27: The Electronic Commerce Protection Act covers more than just anti-spam.

It was written to include a requirement that software cannot be installed on a user’s computer without consent, as an anti-spyware provision.

What a good idea.

Its about time. For the same reasons it isn’t nice to put unwanted software (like for example viruses) on corporate computer systems, it will give individuals the same sort of legal protections for our personal computers that are extended to corporations. This law will make it illegal for companies to put software you don’t want on your computer without getting your permission.

Because no one should have the right to put software on my computer without MY permission.

Just as no one should have the right to put software on YOUR computer without YOUR permission. It is, after all, YOUR computer. You bought it to do what you wanted or needed it to do. Why should anyone have the right to put things on your computer? It isn’t THEIR computer.

what is spyware?

Spyware is like a virus because we don’t put it on our own computers. Someone else does. Spyware is software which is sneaked into our computers. Without our permission. Without our consent. And then like a virus, it does something we don’t want it to do. Because, after all, if we wanted it to do what it was doing, no one would bother to sneak it onto our computer in the first place.

Devices like cookies allow spyware to keep track of what we do and where we go. The information the spyware it finds out about us is then reported back to the the company responsible for putting it there.

Java script can be very dangerous as well, since it can contain executable code. This means java script can start up a program without your consent– like spyware — and make it run on your computer.

When someone puts a program on your computer without your knowledge and consent, there is a very good chance that these programs are doing things you don’t want them to do.

NoScript offers protection for internet use.

NoScript offers protection for internet use.

Protecting Ourselves

There has been an increase of software programs allowing consumers to protect ourselves from cookies, javascript and spyware. These programs usually stop the thing we don’t want from happening, but give us the option of allowing it. In this way we can decide whether the thing we want to do is worth the risk of allowing the cookies, javascript and spyware to do their thing.

One of the protections I use all the time is called NoScript. Whenever anyone sends me a link to something on YouTube, I must first give YouTube permission to run javascript or I can’t see the video clip. Except for my bank, no matter how often I go to I site, I only give “temporary permission”. Some websites don’t work well or at all without cookies or java script. With this kind of protection, I get to choose if the website is important enough for me to risk running these things.

So far nothing really bad has happened, but if something did, I’d be much better able to figure out which website caused the problem, and be able to avoid it in future. A wonderful piece of anti-virus software I use always is called AVG. As well as keeping my computer virus free, AVG prevents software on my computer from connecting to the internet without my permission.

Of course this information is also very valuable to con artists and scammers.I’ve just publicly given out the information that (a) I use NoScript and (b) AVG. Since NoScript is a Firefox add-on, I have also told the world that I use Firefox rather than Internet Explorer or Opera. Who cares? Obviously somebody does, or spyware wouldn’t exist. The more a company knows about me, the easier it is for them to know how to sell me something. The more information they have, the better they know what spam to send to who.

AVG logo

AVG logo

Companies who wanted to find out this kind of information about us used to hire market research firms who would do surveys or run focus groups. Usually the respondents would get some kind of gift or per diem for sharing their information. Better yet, people KNEW that they were being asked. Obviously it is much more economical for companies to just take this information they want to know about us without our permission. I consider this theft. Of course “respectable” companies are not the only ones trying to “mine” consumers for our personal and behavioral information. Spammers, identity thieves and con artists are out there trying to get the exact same information for even more nefarious reasons.

title-firefox

Firefox Browser Logo

Really, that’s what is so scary about spyware… some company is essentially stealing information about our lives. This is not the same as a survey, because we know we’re talking a survey. This is more like we’re being secretly followed, and now wiretapped as well. If we allow ANYONE to add software to our computers without our consent, what could happen?

I wonder: how many people have web cams on their computers? I have one. One Christmas I made a point of giving web cams to several far flung family members to try to make sure we could all stay connected. All these web cams may not be turned on all the time. Most are only turned on for holidays. It is becoming more common for laptops to have built in web cams. What happens if some spy ware is software that secretly activates our webcams, or even just the microphones we keep hooked in just in case Great Aunt Petronella initiates a VoiP contact from her trip to Bulgaria?

If companies want to spy on our computer activities at the very least they should be providing us all with free* computers.

(*Free as in beer; obviously computers given to us by corporations wishing to spy on us would not be “free as in speech”.)

But as long as we buy our own computers, we OWN them. WE get to decide what we put on them.

last minute amendments

Michael Geist’s news is that the copyright lobby wants to ensure their software will be able to trespass on our equipment and through our files so they can target “violation of a user agreement or alleged copyright infringement.” The copyright lobby is concerned that this legislation will block attempts to track possible copyright infringement through surreptitious electronic means. They want our government to give them the right to invade the privacy of all Canadians just in case there is a copyright violation.

“ Even more troubling are proposed changes that would allow copyright owners to secretly access information on users’ computers. ”
— Michael Geist

The copyright lobby is concerned that C-27 will “block investigations that involve capturing user information on computers without knowledge or consent.”

Anti-Spam = Pro-Spyware

Do we want c-27 to be Pro-Spyware?

C-27 was making the copyright lobby unhappy so…

“…the Liberals have tabled a motion that would exclude Section 7(1)(b) from C-27 – effectively restoring the exception in these circumstances.”

“On top of these provisions, sources say the Liberals have also tabled motions to extend the exemptions for telecom providers. ”

Using the Internet = Privacy Invasion

If this law is passed, and you ever connect to the internet, the internet carriers (Bell/Telus/Rogers/Shaw/Sasktel) will have the right to remove things from our computers or add things to our computers. This law will go much farther than the CRTC decision to allow Bell Canada to use Deep Packet Inspection, and is an even greater risk to our personal security.

There is a proposed motion that would also create an exception for telecom providers to the requirement to obtain express consent. It states that the section does not apply to telecom providers providing a telecom service, which is defined to include:

“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

This is simply incredible.

This law that was originally supposed to protect Canadian citizens from spam and spyware may be compromised to sacrifice all Canadian computer security to what I’m guessing is a largely foreign copyright lobby. I am making the assumption that the driving force behind this lobby group are the American movie companies. Now, I love movies. I am a huge movie fan. Even so, I’m not willing to sacrifice Canadian rights and freedoms just in case some Canadians may be breaking copyright law.

This is like giving a key to allow strangers to enter our homes without permission. Once they have the run of the place, who knows what they’ll do. They remove what they want, and leave a bit of spyware in their wake. Whatever happened to due process of law? There are no warrants necessary. The assumption seems to be that all Canadians are crooks, therefore all Canadians can have their computers searched and altered without permission… just in case we might be doing wrong.

This law will give these rights to corporations. We aren’t even talking about police services here. THEY will still need to get a warrant.

Under these ill advised amendments to the proposed law, if I buy a commercial movie DVD, and put it in my computer, it may have the equivalent of a corporate virus on it. If I log on to the internet, Bell Canada can crawl into my computer and add or subtract software or content from my computer as they see fit. They will have the power under this law to rifle through the contents of my personal computer to investigate just in case I may have broken a law somewhere.

Brazil video cover art

Brazil video cover art

I am getting chills up my spine as I remember a scene from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, where a home is invaded and ransacked and family members are dragged away in chains by the security forces. When it comes out that they went to the wrong address no one cares. Restitution is not made, the wrongly incarcerated are not released. This is precisely why civil rights are necessary.

If they make this the law they can put this DRM virus software anywhere to affect anything and everything, Linux included. If it is legal for them to remove software from your computer without your permission, it could well be your anti-spyware software or intruder alarm that they take out so that we cannot see their tracks.

Until you put the software or the movie DVD or music CD in your computer you won’t even know if it has DRM set to target anything on your system.

Even if you never introduce a new piece of software or hardware or CD or DVD to your computer again you are still not safe if you go online anywhere near Bell Canada, since the right to trespass in our internet traffic the CRTC gave Bell Canada for Deep Packet inspection was just the beginning. The incredible ability to violate our rights that this law will give Bell Canada is staggering.

If this becomes law, the ONLY way to be safe is to keep your computer pure… no internet, no new anything. Because the second you do, your privacy is at risk.

Our civil rights are being thrown out because?

This is about copyright infringement. So lets look at worst case scenarios here, I mean really: how bad can it be?

Instead of safeguarding Canadian interests by protecting our computers from outside invasion, these last minute changes would result in giving away our right to privacy and computer security by allowing corporate interests to secretly sneak into our computers and do whatever they like. Call me crazy, but it sounds like a really bad deal to me.

Take it further. If these “good guys” can do it, what is stopping the bad guys?

Obviously, the same kind of invasive software deployed by criminals or terrorists will now have a much easier time of it.

How about my idea of a nightmare. Lets say one of the Bell Canada employees is a pedophile. Because this person now has free access to all the Canadian computers accessing the internet, this pedophile will no longer need porn sites… pedophiles in those Bell Canada spying-on-customers jobs will be able to have all the fun they want with any photographs or home movies of our children we were foolish enough to put anywhere near a computer. And hey, it would be child’s play for this same pedophile to be able to find out where our children live and go to school.

Extreme case? Sure it is. But that’s the problem. This kind of law expects citizens to trust people we don’t know with this much power over us. Maybe the head of Bell Canada is a prince of a fellow. But I don’t know that. How many employees does Bell Canada have? Lots. Probably even lots AND lots. I don’t know any of them. They are probably all fine upstanding people. But maybe one of them isn’t. It’s just that one that’s the problem.

Security? Well, lets see… if it is now legal for these computers to access our equipment and data, and these people and corporations are allowed to add things to our systems, or subtract things from our systems, how can they possibly ever bring even the worst copyright infringer to court? Any “infringing” material that is discovered through these techniques is now suspect. After all, it could have been added just as surreptitiously as the spyware.

Canadian Computer Rights

You may not take things from my computer without my permission

You may not take things from my computer without my permission

I’m not a lawyer, but it seems that we have to be in order to defend ourselves. I don’t know if anyone else has written anything like this but here goes:

The Rights of A Canadian Computer User

No one has the right to put anything on my computer without my permission.
Just as no one has the right to put a bug in my bedroom.

No one has the right to take anything from my computer without my permission.
Just as no one has the right to take anything from my home without my permission.

No one has the right to read my email without my permission.
Just as no one has the right to open my snail mail without my permission.

No one has the right to go through my document folders without my permission.
Just as no one has the right to go through my file cabinet without my permission.

If any corporation feels that they should be entitled to trample on any of these rights by virtue of the fact that I purchased a piece of equipment, software, CD or DVD, just inform me you plan on doing these things BEFORE I purchase the item from you. That way, I can decide if it is worth it to me to put my privacy at risk.

There can be absolutely no justification for doing any of this secretly.

Canada has both laws and law enforcement capabilities.

Canada has both laws and law enforcement capabilities.

Canada HAS laws. It has one of which I’m particularly fond:
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Canada even has law enforcement agencies.
If the forces of law believe that I am in fact infringing on copyright, let them follow the rules of Canadian Law and do an investigation.

If searches are deemed necessary, let there be search warrants. Remember that Canadian Law I mentioned? It has a bit that promises Canadians:

Search or seizure

8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The changes to Bill C-27 being contemplated by the committee would actually grant powers of unreasonable search and seizure to corporations.

This is NOT acceptable.

The basic presumption being made seems to be that all Canadians are guilty. We are all criminals. Yet even in Canada the law affords Canadian citizens the presumption of innocence:

“Any person charged with an offence has the right … to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.”
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Anyone who has read my blogs is aware that brevity is not my strong suit.

But that is clearly what is called for here. We need to tell all of these people in no uncertain terms that this is NOT acceptable. So this is the letter I am about to send to all of them:

Re: Bill C-27: The Electronic Commerce Protection Act

I am deeply concerned that the committee working on Bill C-27 is considering last minute amendments to this law (or possibly introducing modifying legislation later) that would make it legal for third parties to surreptitiously add to or remove anything from my computer without my express consent.

Corporations and Internet carriers should not be allowed to invade my privacy because I’ve purchased their movie or used the internet. Allowing corporations and telecommunications carriers to surreptitiously invade the privacy of Canadians flies in the face of provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Privacy Act as well as being contrary to advice offered by Public Safety Canada.

Don’t be pressured into making last minute ill advised changes without time for serious thought and investigation. Doing this would certainly not be in the public good. Canada deserves good laws.

My computer belongs to me. No one else has the right to put anything on it or take anything off it without my permission.

Sincerely,
Laurel L. Russwurm

As with everything else I have written in this blog, this is clearly placed in the public domain. This means that you are free to copy it verbatim or make any changes you see fit in order to send your own letters.

Because that’s what we need to do. We need to tell them NO.

private files

private files

This is the committee who are putting this law together
(links direct to email addresses)

The Honourable Tony Clement, P.C., B.A., LL.B., Minister of Industry (Conservative)
Hon. Michael Chong, Chairman of the Committee
Anthony Rota, Vice Chairman (Liberal)
Robert Bouchard (Bloc Québécois)
Gordon Brown (Conservative)
Siobhan Coady (Liberal)
Marc Garneau (Liberal)
Mike Lake (Conservative)
Brian Masse (New Democratic Party)
Dave Van Kesteren (Conservative)
Robert Vincent (Bloc Québécois)
Mike Wallace (Conservative)
Chris Warkentin (Conservative)
Along with a lovely link that will help you find your own MP in the event you don’t know who it is.
Find your Member of Parliament

I would think that the Minister of Public Safety would also have a definite interest in these changes to this proposed legislation, since the tabled loopholes will certainly make it more difficult for the forces of Canadian law and order to successfully prosecute perpetrators of electronic crimes (such as con artists, identity thieves etc.)
The Honourable Peter Van Loan, P.C., B.A., LL.B., M.A., M.Sc.Pl., Minister of Public Safety (Conservative)

irony

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month

I’m pretty sure that the politicians being pressured by the big guns of the copyright lobby haven’t thought about the ramifications of this. That’s one of the reasons for pressing for a last-minute addition, it can’t be scrutinized as closely because there isn’t time.

I haven’t had time to read through all of these, and I’m not a lawyer, but here are some Federal Government Online resources that may prove helpful for further investigation– AFTER making sure that the applicable government players not to do this.

Public Safety Canada
Cyber Security
October is Cyber Security Awareness Month
Protect your computer, your information, your family and yourself
Welcome to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Scams and Fraud
Reporting Economic Crime Online (RECOL)
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
The Privacy Act

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

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