The advancement of internet legal principles is the only good thing to result from child pornography #RvSpencer
– Me, on Twitter, last Friday as I read the case
Sure, quoting yourself from Twitter is pretty dumb. And tragically, my #RvSpencer hashtag never took off. But the point still stands. Illegal activities like child pornography tend to be lightning rods for internet privacy, and the only way we can get landmark internet law cases like last Friday’s R v. Spencer case from the Supreme Court of Canada. And the Court even found a way to keep the child pornography evidence intact while guaranteeing some internet privacy rights. Win-win!
Earlier this week, the government introduced new legislation, Bill S-4, known as the Digital Privacy Act, which undoubtedly will end all privacy issues forever in this country. Good news! Or is it? As usual, I’ve read the bill so you don’t have to. Let’s dive in.
Greetings, internet denizens! Sorry for the lack of posting lately. I think the internet took the month of January off, so there was really no news to report. But yesterday, there was good news! The Conservative government has decided to kill Bill C-30, the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, or as we liked to call it around here, the Vic Toews is an Idiot Act.
We wrote quite a bit about C-30 and its various nefarious schemes. Suffice it to say, when a Federal Minister says things like “you are either for this bill or you are a child molester” (I’m paraphrasing, but not by much) there is going to be some media attention. The internet exploded with rage (as it is wont to do) at the bill last February, and the government seemed shamed somewhat. Yesterday’s announcement was too long in coming yet welcome, and was an obvious reminder that people who actually know about the internet (i.e. me) must be listened to.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, in describing what changes the future might hold, said yesterday that amendments or modernization of Canadian law:
“will not contain …warrantless mandatory disclosure of basic subscriber information or the requirement for telecommunications service providers to build intercept capability within their systems.”
Let’s just leave that here for posterity to remind the government of its position on this, if when they bring up “lawful access legislation” again.
Are you an online consumer of child pornography? Well I have some bad news for you! The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled last week that you really don’t have an expectation of privacy when it comes to your ISP turning over your personal information, Charter of Rights be damned. But what if you are doing something less skeevy than child porn? Maybe you’re a big fan of content from somewhere like https://www.cartoonporno.xxx/. Well that’s a bit trickier. Let’s dive in.
It’s been my dream to use the word “shenanigans” in a blog post for a long time. I really love the word; it’s got such a nice old-timey feel to it. So what would you call a bunch of ISPs, telecom companies, and industry groups getting together with the government in secret before the introduction of Vic Toews’ old friend, Bill C-30, The Catching Sexual Predators / Internet Spying / “Lawful” Access Bill? You are correct, sir. SHENANIGANS.
So Michael Geist (or more likely his army of students) did some yeoman’s work in filing an Access to Information request. They hit the motherload. Let Mr. Geist explain what they found:
in the months leading up to the introduction Bill C-30, Canada’s telecom companies worked actively with government officials to identify key issues and to develop a secret Industry – Government Collaborative Forum on Lawful Access.
Lovely! So in January 2012, a bunch of industry types and government reps sat down for a meeting. All the big boys were there – Rogers, Bell, Vidéotron. After some coffee and delicious muffins (or so I assume, maybe they were danishes), they sat around and figured out how to fuck over their subscribers at the government’s request. Fun! Just so you know they were serious:
representatives have been granted Government of Canada Secret level security clearance and signed non-disclosure agreements
So we’ve got the country’s oligopolisitic media / telecom companies and the government colluding in secret to try to pass legislation no one in the public wants. Just another day at the office.
Anonymous is all over Canadian news yesterday and today. I have been trying to avoid discussing them (it?) since I started this blog for fear of alienating any potential future corporate clients. I do have to make a living, you know. But I cannot ignore a big story that is all about law and the internet in Canada. Let’s dig through the muck after the jump.
Since both of my most faithful readers have sent this to me (tap of the gavel to Steve and moe), I guess I should post it. Also, all video of evidence of my CTV Newsnet appearance seems to have vanished due to the vast anti-privacy conspiracy, so you need something to watch.
“The State has no business in the hard drives of the Nation.” I want that on a T-shirt, pronto.
So, Bill C-30. Man that shit really blew up last week, didn’t it? It was such a disaster, respectable news organizations like CTV Montreal have turned to your barely respectable blogger for an interview today on the noon news (update – check the video player on the right at montreal.ctv.ca and click on Newsmaker: Allen Mendelsohn for the vid). Want a preview of what I am going to say? Join me for a tour through the Bill after the jump.
I am a lawyer specializing in internet law working out of Montreal, though sometimes I do it in front of the U.S. Capitol. That should tell you what you need to know about internet law in Canada. I also warp young legal minds at the Faculty of Law at McGill.