More corporate fascism for squashing freedom of speech

In my short post yesterday, Thunderf00t’s video demonstrated how easy it is for a large corporation – specifically Google, which controls how the vast majority of information on the internet is accessed – could easily collude with politicians for their own benefit…and to the detriment of us, the ‘little people’.  In addition, Thunderf00t demonstrated how, through YouTube, Google had already demonstrated that they do censor (by not allowing their search engines to ‘pick it up’ and thus making it ‘virtually dissappear’) information which is critical of them…

The desire, means and ability:  it’s all there!

Sadly, that is just the tip of the iceberg!!!

From Michael Geist:

… the Electronic Commerce Protection Act comes to a conclusion in committee on Monday as MPs conduct their “clause by clause” review. While I have previously written about the lobbying pressure to water down the legislation [to protect consumer rights] (aided and abetted by the Liberal and Bloc MPs on the committee) and the CMA’s recent effort to create a huge loophole, I have not focused on a key source of the pressure. Incredibly, it has been the copyright lobby – particularly the software and music industries – that has been engaged in a full court press to make significant changes to the bill.

The DRM [Digital Rights Managament] concern arises from a requirement in the bill to obtain consent before installing software programs on users’ computers. This anti-spyware provision applies broadly, setting an appropriate standard of protection for computer users. Yet the copyright lobby fears it could inhibit installation of DRM-type software without full knowledge and consent. Sources say that the Liberals have introduced a motion that would take these practices outside of the bill.

Even more troubling are proposed changes that would allow copyright owners to secretly access [personal] information on users’ computers.

(my emphasis and notes)

OK – let’s sum up:

Large multinational corporations are lobbying (and succeeding, with Liberal and Quebec PMs) to allow changes to the proposed  Electronic Commerce Protection Act which will permit – in the name of protecting their copyright – manufacturers of products (from video games to music CDs to just about anything else that is ‘electronic media’) to install and run programs on your computer, which would gather personal data about you and your computer use.  And, it would allow them to do it without your permission – and even without your knowledge!!!

If there really are people out there who think this is something that only concerns people who steal music or movies, please, think twice.

Do we permit the police – who, at least, are accountable to the citizenry – to wiretap our phone ‘just to make sure we are not breaking the law’?  NO!  They must prove, to the satisfaction of a judge, that there is a cause for surveillance, get a court order, and only then can they listen in.  If it ever gets to court, the police are obligated to disclose all that they have.  And, so it should be.

This lobbied-for change would, in effect, permit private corporations – who are not accountable to anyone but their own BOD and shareholders – to ‘wiretap’ your computer, monitor every keystroke, access data in every bit of memory.  Without any judicial oversight, without any requirement that they disclose the information they collected – or what it was they were collecting in the first place.

This would permit corporations to install ANY SPYWARE  THEY WANT on ANY computer… and this software could attack any program or data it deemed to be in breech of DRM.

And, you have no say in it.

Remember what happened to all those Kindle users, who woke up one day and found books they legally purchased deleted, because somewhere higher up the chain, people were bickering about digital rights?

Well, this would become the norm:  anyone who had any claim to a copyright could install software on your computer – without you even knowing about it – and if this found anything it considered breeched its DRM, it would delete it.  Even if you bought it legally.  Because if there were any dispute anywhere along the line, their ability to delete ‘the content’ would be supreme.  Really.

Is this reasonable?

Is this the fair balance of rights?

And if you don’t think this is happening already, you are wrong!

Even Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, warns of the impact these changes would have to the privacy rights of Canadian citizens:

Technological advances hold out the promise of greater convenience, but sometimes at a cost to human rights such as privacy and the ability to control our personal information.

Meanwhile, governments and businesses have a seemingly insatiable appetite for personal information.

Governments appear to believe – mistakenly, I would argue – that the key to national security and public safety is collecting mountains of personal data. Privacy often receives short shrift as new anti-terrorism and law enforcement initiatives are rolled out.

Personal information has also become a hot commodity in the private sector. Our names, addresses, purchases, interests, likes and dislikes are recorded, analysed and stored – all so companies can sell us more products and services.

Adding to our concerns is the fact many businesses fail to adequately protect this sensitive information – leaving it vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves.

And if you thought THAT was not enough….

This idea has been ‘rumbling about’ for a few months, but recently received publicity when Eugene Kasparsky openly stated that each internet user should have an internet passport.  This would, presumably, document their every click and keystroke, which could then be monitored through increased internet regulation.  I dare reach this conclusion because Mr. Kasparsky also said that there must be no anonymity on the internet, and any country which refuses to regulate and monitor its citizens should be cut off the net.

Oh, and this should all be enforced by ‘internet police’!

I’d like to change the design of the Internet by introducing regulation—Internet passports, Internet police, and international agreement—about following Internet standards. – Eugene Kaspersky,
CEO of Russia’s Kaspersky Lab

OK – this idea is radical now.  You may shake your head and say this will never be possible.

But, 40 years ago, did anyone think that, once accused, the ‘truth’ could not be used as ‘defense’?

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3 Responses to “More corporate fascism for squashing freedom of speech”

  1. Robbie Says:

    While that is a disturbing theory and a real route that we could follow, I honestly believe that it will come about. But if it does, God forbid, there will always be an untold number of people fighting a digital battle against it. A giant game of cat and mouse.

    Our rights are tried, violated, and fought for constantly. It’s nothing new, and it will continue. I don’t think much hype might need to be raised over this. As powerful as information is, and how easy it already is to get digital information, I believe it’s only as useful and valuable as a user allows it to be. So, If I ever want to hide or protect something in such I situation, I’d make a hard copy If I could, or save it in multiple locations.

    There are ways around all limitations and walls. We just need to keep finding them.

    Xanthippa says:

    Yes, we need to keep fighting them.

    BUT!!!

    Most people (aside from us geeks) are not aware of the extent to which DRMs are invasive. And, they are not willing to educate themselves about it, because they have been convinced that only those who pirate ‘stuff’ need to worry about it.

    As for making hard copies: the fact that you DID make a hard copy is saved on your hard drive, and as such, easily accessible to the manufacturers who put the spyware onto the computer used to make that hard copy. They’ll know. And, there is nothing in the law right now to prevent them from having a function in their DRM program which would disable your DVD reader/burner in order to protect their IP. Perhaps disable it permanently.

    This is not unprecedented: people got into modifying their X-boxes in order to use them as their media managers. The manufacturer stated that the customer has no right to modify the x-box, as their ownership rights only cover the product as it was sold. And, they searched the net for these modified X-boxes. If they found one, they accessed it and sabotaged it. The only way to continue to use a modified X-box is to keep it 100% off-line.

    And there is so much more stuff like this already happening!

  2. The Phantom Says:

    Xan, I agree. The lobby efforts are designed to lock everyone in to the old old old model of music distribution that existed when there was no home recording equipment available. Just record players. Trying to stuff the djiin back in the bottle.

    Fortunately this is utterly stupid, and the people trying to do it will be bankrupt in the next 10 years at most if they keep trying to do business this way.

    The industry spent many millions on DRM for Blue-Ray, and its fully cracked already. You can rip BlueRay disks just as easilly as CDs and DVDs. Millions down the tubes. Currently they are spending millions more suing their own customers, with the result that music sales continue their downward spiral.

    That music almost uniformly SUCKS these days doesn’t help them.

    However, let this reality not deter you from bending your MP’s ear over this. It is not in the best interests of music buyers, nor even music companies to do this, and it is extremely damaging to the country when the government passes invasive and stupid laws which are ultimately unenforceable. Gun registry being the most recent example I can think of.

    Xanthippa says:

    Thank you!

    The issue with the music and entertainment industry goes much deeper than the control of their current IP – they are fighting to retain a monopoly on communication. As in, the messages we receive through music and movies go very far towards shaping the evolution of our culture. Giving up the monopoly on the delivery system will also remove their control over the message.

    But the issue goes even deeper than just the music and entertainment industry…

    What happens if you play a CD at work, on your laptop, while you work…and spyware gets access to your corporate data?


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