Online Surveillance in Canada; Phone & E-mail surveillance in the UK
Canada: Section 34 of the Online Surveillance Bill Would Give Orwellian Powers to Government-Appointed ‘Inspectors’
February 20th, 2012Via: CBC:
Among other things, the bill requires ISPs to install surveillance technology and software to enable monitoring of phone and internet traffic. Section 34 is there to make sure ISPs comply. So what, exactly, does it say?
Essentially, it says that government agents may enter an ISP when they wish, without a warrant, and demand to see absolutely everything — including all data anywhere on the network — and to copy it all. If that seems hard to believe, let’s walk through it.
First, Section 33 tells us that, “The Minister may designate persons or classes of persons as inspectors for the purposes of the administration and enforcement of this Act.” So we’re not talking about police officers necessarily. We’re talking about anyone the minister chooses — or any class of persons. (Musicians? Left-handed hockey players? Members of the Conservative Party? Sure, that’s absurd — but the bill allows it…)
Next, Section 34 spells out the sweeping powers of these “inspectors.” And, if they sound Orwellian, welcome to the world of Section 34.
The inspectors may “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.”
And, once he or she is in, anything goes.
The inspector, says the bill, may “examine any document, information or thing found in the place and open or cause to be opened any container or other thing.” He or she may also “use, or cause to be used, any computer system in the place to search and examine any information contained in or available to the system.”
You read that right. The inspector gets to see “any” information that’s in or “available to the system.” Yours, mine, and everyone else’s emails, phone calls, web surfing, shopping, you name it. But, if that sounds breath-taking enough, don’t quit now because the section is still not done.
The inspector — remember, this is anyone the minister chooses — is also empowered to copy anything that strikes his or her fancy. The inspector may “reproduce, or cause to be reproduced, any information in the form of a printout, or other intelligible output, and remove the printout, or other output, for examination or copying.”
Oh, and he can even use the ISP’s own computers and connections to copy it or to email it to himself. He can “use, or cause to be used, any copying equipment or means of telecommunication at the place.”
In short, there’s nothing the inspector cannot see or copy. “Any” information is up for grabs. And you thought the new airport body scanners were intrusive?
Finally, note that such all-encompassing searches require no warrant, and don’t even have to be in the context of a criminal investigation. Ostensibly, the purpose is to ensure that the ISP is complying with the requirements of the act — but nothing in the section restricts the inspector to examining or seizing only information bearing upon that issue. It’s still “any” information whatsoever.
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Britain: Details of Every Phone Call, Text Message, Email and Websites Visited Will Be Stored in Vast Corporate Databases for the Government to Access
February 20th, 2012Via: Telegraph:
Landline and mobile phone companies and broadband providers will be ordered to store the data for a year and make it available to the security services under the scheme.
The databases would not record the contents of calls, texts or emails but the numbers or email addresses of who they are sent and received by.
For the first time, the security services will have widespread access to information about who has been communicating with each other on social networking sites such as Facebook.
Direct messages between subscribers to websites such as Twitter would also be stored, as well as communications between players in online video games.
The Home Office is understood to have begun negotiations with internet companies in the last two months over the plan, which could be officially announced as early as May.
It is certain to cause controversy over civil liberties – but also raise concerns over the security of the records.
Access to such information would be highly prized by hackers and could be exploited to send spam email and texts. Details of which websites people visit could also be exploited for commercial gain.
The plan has been drawn up on the advice of MI5, the home security service, MI6, which operates abroad, and GCHQ, the Government’s “listening post” responsible for monitoring communications.
Rather than the Government holding the information centrally, companies including BT, Sky, Virgin Media, Vodafone and O2 would have to keep the records themselves.
Under the scheme the security services would be granted “real time” access to phone and internet records of people they want to put under surveillance, as well as the ability to reconstruct their movements through the information stored in the databases.
The system would track “who, when and where” of each message, allowing extremely close surveillance.
Mobile phone records of calls and texts show within yards where a call was made or a message was sent, while emails and internet browsing histories can be matched to a computer’s “IP address”, which can be used to locate where it was sent.
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