The Canadian Link to Copyright Enforcement Spyware Tools

The Internet is buzzing over a new report  from the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property that
recommends using spyware and ransom-ware to combat online
infringement.  The recommendations are shocking as they represent
next-generation digital locks that could lock down computers and even
“retrieve” files from personal computers:

Software can be written that will allow only authorized users to open
files containing valuable information. If an unauthorized person
accesses the information, a range of actions might then occur. For
example, the file could be rendered inaccessible and the unauthorized
user’s computer could be locked down, with instructions on how to
contact law enforcement to get the password needed to unlock the account
.

While many of the recommendations sound outrageous (see further details here and here),
it is worth noting that earlier this year Canadian business groups led
by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce recommended that the Canadian
government introduce a regulation that would permit the use of spyware
for these kinds of purposes.

The proposed regulation would remove the need for express consent
for:

a program that is installed by or on behalf of a person to
prevent, detect, investigate, or terminate activities that the
person reasonably believes (i) present a risk or threatens the
security, privacy, or unauthorized or fraudulent use, of a
computer system, telecommunications facility, or network, or (ii)
involves the contravention of any law of Canada, of a province or
municipality of Canada or of a foreign state;

As I noted
at the time
, this provision would effectively legalize spyware
in Canada on behalf of these industry groups. The potential scope of
coverage is breathtaking: a software program secretly installed by
an entertainment software company designed to detect or investigate
alleged copyright infringement would be covered by this exception.
This exception could potentially cover programs designed to block
access to certain websites (preventing the contravention of a law as
would have been the case with SOPA), attempts to access wireless
networks without authorization, or even keylogger programs tracking
unsuspecting users (detection and investigation).

via Michael Geist Blog http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/6858/125/

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