Canadian’s Online Privacy At Risk

From the “I can’t believe this is Canada” file, the government is pushing a new “lawful access” bill, basically granting the police and government officials the rights and means to freely and on a hunch, spy on your internet usage.  Assuming that if you have nothing to hide, you should have no fear of arbitrary search and seizure, of course.

Michael Geist has a good article about the bill and why it is crazy.  The insanity first becomes evident when Public Safety Minister Vic Toews tells people “You can stand with us, or you can stand with the child pornographers“.   As if everyone with a desire for online privacy and against widespread internet surveillance is somehow automatically “for” child pron!  Yep, there is no middle ground here.  Line up with the rest of ’em, mate.

I agree with Tech Dirt’s post, this is totally ridiculous, and a cynical political move that assumes the Canadian public is stupid and will just roll over.  I sincerely hope that is not true, that there is enough outcry against this bill that it is thrown out faster than last week’s Metro.  Yes, it may be difficult and time consuming to obtain a judge’s consent in the form of a warrant, but you don’t just subtract an individual’s rights from the equation in the name of expediancy and convenience for law enforcement.  You cannot and should not assume that the entire public is suspect, and then launch a witch hunt to see who floats and who sinks!

Understand that I am totally against child exploitation.  I am against allowing criminals to use the Internet or any other means to take advantage of innocent children or hard working folks, to prey on their innocence or their wages.  I am against allowing drug traffickers to ply their trade on the streets and playgrounds where my wife strolls and that my grandchildern play.  But I am also not for allowing constable X to decide that he doesn’t like this post, and as a precaution, just in case, on a hunch because of these contents, to start tapping my private communications, watching everything that my family does online, or reading our personal emails.  If the suspicion of serious misdoing is strong, follow the established process.  Otherwise, bugger off and catch the bad guys.

If it takes too long to acquire the necessary documentation to proceed, then fix THAT process.  Don’t go messing around with our rights to privacy.  If we allow this, what is the next step?  Setting up cameras and recording devices in our previously private yards?  Watching us on the potty in case we try to dispose of some illegal substance?  Having our neighbors monitoring us and reporting our communistic tendencies?  Will 2012 become 1984, where Big Brother watches our every move, on the off chance that we are somehow misbehaving?  Who decides what constiutes misbehavior?  Today we are combing through everyone’s online activity for the purposes of detecting child pron.  Tomorrow, we will round up anyone that is seeking to make gay online connections.  Next week, let’s go after anyone that looks at pron of any kind, legal or not it is immoral.  After that, hey that Sunshine Girl was kind of riske’, and I don’t like the look of those lingerie ads…

We are already monitored at work, where we have specific policies that are put in place to allow it.  We are all made aware of the fact that we are monitored, and that certain behaviors are inappropriate for the business world.  It is required in order to ensure that company assets are not misused, that confidential information remains protected, that individual rights and freedoms are upheld, that a decent workplace is kept, that malware doesn’t gain a stronghold, and that respectable business practices are maintained by all.  What we do in our own homes, on communication lines that we pay for, and with resources that we maintain is our own personal business.  When that personal business has crossed the line into significant illegality, yes, gather evidence, and if the crime is harmful or detrimental to others, pursue the matter.  But do so within the limits of the law and the charter of rights that we all own.

Here’s an idea.  Why not go after the sick B-tards that purvey this child pron.  It isn’t that hard to stumble accross many of the servers that host this muck.  Try a freakin’ Google search.  Once you find them, get a court order to operate a sting, or setup one of your own servers, and capture the IPs that upload and download from them.  I’ve got a feeling that these clowns chat on forums and share their subversive links.  INVESTIGATE.  The bottom line is there is no shortcut to doing your own leg work.  Internet Service Providers will no doubt comply if they have to (and some just because they would like to see these guys outted, as would I), but they should remain SERVICE providers, not agents of the state.  This bill will simply drive everyone that doesn’t want others poking into their private lives to adopt encryption techniques and back channel communications.

Just my humble opinion.  Toss in your 2¢ if you can spare the change.  These are your rights, too…