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Facebook: Insurmountable(?) Challenges to Privacy Protection in a Social World

In September 2010, Canada’s Federal Privacy Commissioner officially completed a two year investigation of Facebook’s privacy practices. As a result of this process, Facebook was compelled to make several improvements to its site, to the benefit of its 500+ million global users. Yet there was little of a self-congratulatory air to the Commissioner’s statement, which noted ongoing concerns with the site’s privacy compliance. PIPEDA, Canada’s data protection statute, has been hailed historically as a model for privacy protection in an increasingly challenging environment. It attempts to balance the legitimate interests of businesses against privacy rights of individuals, primarily by ensuring users are well aware of the privacy choices they make and the consequences thereof. In this sense, ultimate responsibility for privacy remains with the user.

Facebook, Privacy, Regulation, Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Quebec 'educates' students on evils of CD piracy, ignores private copy levy

In annually released and updated 'eduactional materials', Revenu Quebec has been educating Quebec youths as to tragic impact of CD Piracy, ignoring not only the fact that such copying has been legal in Canada for almost a decade, but also that copyright holders are compensated for blank CD sales.

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CRTC Allows Bell to Apply Per Usage Pricing to Wholesale Customers

The CRTC released a decision allowing Bell to impose user based pricing on its wholesale customers. This is problematic for a number of reasons.

First, it exacerbates the lack of competition already present in the wireline Internet industry by effectively making usage based pricing a non-competitive issue. Second, it is unfair as much of the bandwidth in question will be in off-peak hours and so would cost Bell nothing in provisioning. Third, it allows incumbents such as Bell to further abuse their gatekeeper position, leading to a diminshed internet experience for Canadians.

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Harms of Malware to Consumers Measured in Billions of Dollars

The OECD has issued a comprehensive report quantifying the harms resulting from malware. The report estimates that consumers spend billions of dollars every year on information system repairs or replacement to fix damage caused by malware. The report further states on average businesses spend between 6 and 10% of their total operating capital costs on addressing issues arising from malware.

This highlights the need for anti-malware legislation in Canada! Learn more, then Act

UK Example: Lawful Access Legislation is a Dangerous and Slippery Slope

Reports from the UK show that authorities have made more than 500,000 requests for confidential communications data over the past year alone - roughly 1 for every 78 adults in the UK. These requests come under an Act that allows authorities to gain access to information on who individuals have been phoning, emailing, which websites individuals visit, etc.

Originally enacted for the purpose of combating terrorism, the UK example shows how easy it is for lawful access legislation to lead to abuse - in some cases, the access powers were used to snoop on suspected litterers.

Defenders of the UK Act, like those who tout the Canadian version, say the Act does not allow access to the content of communications, but only the 'traffic' (who you are speaking to, etc.).

While the Canadian version of lawful access is not as broad as the UK version, this demonstrates that it is indeed a slippery slope and care should be taken to ensure the proper safeguards are in place before any expansion of police powers is allowed.

See the UK Information Commissioner's full report as well as a breakdown of some of the numbers.

US Introduces NetNeutrality Legislation

While the CRTC grapples with issues of ISP discrimination against applications, services and users, the US has introduced legislation intended to guarantee Americans will not face such discrimination unless it is justified. Specifically, the proposed Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 will prevent ISPs from degrading bandwidth based on application unless such degradation is justified.

The CRTC has the power now to institute similar protections for Canadians and the Internet. Hopefully it will take some guidance from this new Bill.

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US 'Lawful' Access Not Even Helpful

Post 9/11, President Bush, on questionable legal grounds, authorized a secret 'lawful' surveillance program that allowed the FBI, CIA, NSA and other agencies to eavesdrop on the electronic communications of Americans and others. A also asking for expanded powers to lawfully access online identification information without a warrant. Yet law enforcement and national security agencies have still to demonstrate any need for these expansive powers and specifically for the lack of oversight involved.

Montreal Copyright Town Hall

Watch a replay of the Montreal copyright consultation town hall:

Read a summary here:

France Delays Passing 3-Strike Copyright Penalty Scheme

The French National Assembly faces yet another delay in its attempt to implement its 3 strikes and your off the Internet approach to copyright enforcement.

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