Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Preverts of the World, Untie!

Canada is in the throes of trying to enact some legislation to allow the music and film industry to stop getting their stuff stolen by people who won't go to the cinema or buy/rent their 'prawducts' from a commercial enterprise.Canada's  version of 'SOPA' and 'PIPA' is called "Bill C-11". But yesterday it was pettifogged by being dealt with, along with a 'new' Bill 30 - an "Act to enact the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act and to amend the Criminal Code and other acts". It's on its way through the Tory parliament, again. After having failed a number of times before, it resurrected. It will give those 'investigating, or injured, parties' the right to acquire the personal information of internet users by requiring service providers to track usage and turn over pertenant details, upon request by law enforcement, or security services  -  anybody suspecting 'piracy' of a  copywrite would be included. But it's been smoke-screened by a furor over 'kiddie porn'.

To sweeten the pot of debate, to-day, "Public Safety Minister" Vic (Mortimer Snerd) Toews, claimed that anybody opposed to the Bill would be "enabling child pornographers"! He offered Canadians the choice of being 'with us' or 'with the kiddie-diddlers'.  That's certainly putting an edge on things.

Except that he's dead wrong. Just two weeks ago, most of the police brass in the Province of Ontario called a press conference to announce they'd 'taken down' a 'kiddie porn' ring of thousands. They'd saved  a number of children from sexually-exploitive circumstances and they festooned a map of the province with, what they claimed, were the ISP addresses of those who were involved. All done with the 'old' law and the 'old' technology. But I'd guess that wasn't good enough to nab all the other pervs they couldn't take down. For it seems kiddie porn might be as popular as guns.

The two issues are related. It's all about law enforcement and public safety, you see. Toew's party is just coming off dismantling the Canadian Gun Registry. A billion-dollar boondoggle that succeeded in identifying Canadians who obeyed the law and 'registered' their guns. Its signal failings were not being able to register all guns, which left criminals using illegal, stolen, and/or unregistered guns; making gun owners more widely responsible for their firearms, and leaving the Police not knowing who really had a firearm, except legal owners, and, so, having to treat every call as a potential 'hi-risk' situation. Needless to say, the Tories will be 'doing away' with all this, leaving gun licensing, acquistion and the'old' registry data in the hands of the RCMP.

Our local MP, one Larry Miller Esq, was foolish enough to point out in parliament,  that Adolf Hiler registered all  the guns in Germany, which eased his way into power and helped him create a police state. He was greeted with a toofay salute, even from among his own party, and demands for an apology.

It isn't a hard stretch to see how Bill C11 isn't going to do much the same thing, even if you are a gun owner. What they describe as 'lawful access' legislation, will allow police and security, disgruntled copywrite owners and probably some other organizations, to acquire personal information about internet users, essentially, on request. It will require ISP's to maintain records of internet use, including links to other users, and provide access to these, by warrant. Courts can require long-term storage of data and communications. The costs, of course, will become part of the fees charged for internent service. As in the gun law, however, the achilles heel is the same; the fact that 'criminals' are not required to use an open internet.

Even now 'hard core' users of the internet use  high-level encryption and proxy software to access the internet in ways that are almost impossible to trace. This legislation will do little, or nothing, to address that problem. But it just might drive some ordinary people to become 'hard core' users, just as the old 'gun law' created a whole new class of, now unnecessary, criminals.

Will the law be equitably applied? 'If you're innocent you have nothing to worry about', is never a great reassurance. We have only to look at the 'gun law'. Having a registry gave Police the power to 'inspect' firearms for safety and storage compliance.  That was, no doubt, the basis for a number of 'search warrants'. And it also resulted in a large number of charges resulting from 'police business' carried out in other circumstances. Just this last week a court case was in the news,

One Leroy Smickle (I'm not making this up),  a 30-something from Toronto,  was charged with a gun offence, careless use of  a firearm, requiring a mandatory sentence of  3 years, when he was caught 'playing' with a loaded pistol while entertaining himself on an internet chat ( a future 'double-whammy'?). The police had raided his home on a search warrant for another man. An Ottawa judge refused to put him in jail for being stupid and getting caight by accident,  I'd guess. You'll note that the law didn't leave the police much leeway in just walking away from the situation they'd happened upon unintendedly, Leroy was getting charged - even though he'd dropped both his pistol, and his laptop, when the raiders burst in. Of course the focus of the story was on the necessity of giving him 3 years in jail, not the necessity of charging him under the gun law..

If you're at all concerned that by this time next week your 'browsing habits' might have to change, a lot; you might want to tell your MPP how you feel. He doesn't give a shit what you think.

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