On the heels of SOPA’s downfall in the United States and ACTA’s slow decline in Europe, new efforts for online surveillance by the Canadian and U.K. governments aren’t going over well with webizens there, either.
“[This] is beyond the dreams of any past totalitarian regime,” a British rights group warned Monday.
The new legislation was unveiled last week in Canada by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, who said the bill was mostly intended to wipe out online child pornography, France24 reports. But critics say the bill will also give the police new powers to monitor online communications, and that that represents a major intrusion of privacy. Canadian news site the CBC’s Terry Milewski has warned that one section of the bill gives “Orwellian powers to government-appointed ‘inspectors.’ ” From the bill’s Section 34:
“An inspector may, for a purpose related to verifying compliance with this Act, enter any place owned by, or under the control of, any telecommunications service provider in which the inspector has reasonable grounds to believe there is any document, information, transmission apparatus, telecommunications facility or any other thing to which this Act applies.”
An online petition opposing the legislation, calling it “warrantless,” “invasive” and “costly,” now has more than 100,000 signatures. Many Canadians have also taken to Twitter to make fun of the bill using the the hashtag #tellViceverything.
A new Twitter account Vikileaks30 last week released private details about Toews over several days. The Ottowa Citizen reported that the account was being operated by a computer within the Canadian parliament. Vikileaks30 is now closed.
In other Canadian Web surveillance news, a new deal signed by the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto makes e-mailing a link equivalent to photocopying, meaning all faculty e-mail will now be subject to surveillance. BoingBoing calls the copyright deal “bone-stupid,” but technology news site Cnet has a suggestion which can combat the rules: Send messages as self-destructing e-mail.
Across the pond, British government plans to bring an Internet surveillance scheme back to life are being criticized by both parties.
The plan would keep records of direct messages between Twitter users as well as messages between online gamers, sometimes in real-time, the Telegraph reports. Guy Herbert, general secretary of rights group NO2ID, told PCPro news:
“The automatic recording and tracing of everything done online by anyone — of almost all our communications and much of our personal lives, shopping and reading — just in case it might come in useful to the authorities later, is beyond the dreams of any past totalitarian regime, and beyond the current capabilities of even the most oppressive states.”
Earlier this month, Britain’s Home Affairs Committee published a report on the roots of violent radicalization and found the Web to be the largest culprit.
“The Committee recommends that Internet service providers themselves should be more active in monitoring the material they host,” the committee recommended.
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