Harper government re-introduces oppressive ‘digital lock’ bill

Michael Geist explains it much better than I ever could.

I’ll just add that this is very distressing – and a big strike against individual property rights.

Ontario Freedom Party – looking better by the minute

While our southern neighbours keep wondering if their votes count as they think they count, here, in Ontario, it is getting harder and harder to figure out where to park one’s vote in the quickly upcoming election.

The Liberals are corrupt and Dalton McGuinty will only say something that’s true by accident.

The Conservatives seem hell bent on bringing in publicly funded faith-based schools (that means religious apartheid in schools, in case you missed it) – the very issue on which the Conservatives crashed and burned during the last election.

The NDP wants to finish the job of bankrupting Ontario that McGuinty has so effectively started:  on a per capita basis, Ontario – the one-time industrial engine of Canada – is now worse off than California.  The NDP’s cure – spend more!!!

The Pirate Party – despite its drawbacks,  a party  which would push for a balance in consumer electronic rights – is not in the race.

The Family Coalition Party  wants to legislate morality – not a sound principle, even were you to agree with their morals completely.

The role for Libertarians is to be a voice of reason – not to govern.

The Greens – yeah, pull the other one.  People naive enough to get suckered in by the ACC hysteria are not stable enough to deserve anyone’s vote.

Then I saw these TV ads:

Perhaps I’m going to look at this Freedom Party a little closer.

encounterbooks: Debunking the Palestinian Lie

A few thoughts about a ‘two-state solution’

Tomorrow, Palestinian representatives will speak at the UN in order to seek recognition of themselves as a state.

I’ll be extremely blunt about this:  the Palestinian {founding document, whatever the accurate term is, of its ruling body} states unequivocally that it seeks a military destruction of Israel.

Israel is a member state of the UN.  (Why, I really don’t know – goodness knows they are the UN’s favourite whipping boy…)

It is surreal that the UN would entertain a speech – much less seriously consider for membership – a ‘state’ whose duly elected government’s openly stated goal is the military destruction of one of its own members!!!

I cannot express just how ridiculous this is.

(And no – I am not indifferent to the suffering of the Palestinian children, I just think that Jordan is the one to blame, not Israel, as it was Jordan who confiscated much of the land dedicated to the creation of Palestine and then kicked the Arabs who now self-identify as ‘Palestinians’ out and denied them citizenship rights. So, let’s not go down that particular proverbial garden path…)

Anyhow, while thinking about this, I came across this fascinating post about a ‘two-state solution’.  Enjoy.

Oh my god…

Well, well, well…

When, for once, a ‘man of God’ finally runs afoul of the police in Ottawa for a reason other than diddling little children, Toronto steps in to fill the void

This just goes to show that no adult that claims to represent or carry authority from God should ever, EVER be let near children!

Power corrupts.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

We should not act continuously surprised that the people who actually believe they represent the most absolutest power possible (and may be even more absolute, as some believe) are necessarily the most absolutely corrupt human beings!

 

OnStar: like there was ever any doubt…

In the digital age, it is much easier for information to dissiminate.

That is a double-edged sword.

After all, information can not only help you – it can track you.  And we are being tracked now, more than ever.

I’m not just talking about videocameras everywhere - there is so much more!

Many manufacturers are inserting IR id tags into their products – individual numbers are assigned to each piece of merchendise which is than tracked when you walk back into their stores:  if you walk through the store in an item with such an IR tag, it’ll tell the store who you are, which store you purchased that garment in, how you paid for it and what other purchases you have made from that company.  All this to better help sales-staff target you customize your shopping experience.

All the data stored on your personal digital devices can be accessed remotely – by just walking through a doorway with a sensor in it:  from phones and cameras to ‘smart’ passports.  Remember those ads for coffee-tables that you just place your camera on and they will automatically download the photos – yeah, we have not been hearing about it much lately, even though the technology has been around for years…

Of course, many of us are complicit in corporate datamining:  every time we use the ‘customer rewards points’ cards (like AirMiles), we are permitting large corporations to cross-analyze our shopping habits -  by storing and analyzing info on everything we buy.  I never understood why people sold their private information so cheaply!  But, so many of us do…without a second thought.

And that is the problem:  we give permission for vast amounst of our private information to be collected, analyzed and used by ‘unseen entities’ (usually corporate, but often government ones) without ever giving it a thought.  We chide teenagers for not being careful about the information they put on ‘Facebook’ or about sending provocative photos of themselves  by phone – but this is negligable compared to the type of information we give away daily….just so long as we think there is some minor benefit to us.

Things have escalated to the next level:  many of us are now not just consenting for our most private information to be accessed by ‘third parties’, we are increasingly willing to hand over the very control of our choices/actions to ‘third parties’ – both corporate and governmental.

Let me give you a little example of the latter:  in Ontario, there is a new program where the government ‘gives’ you a brand new electronic heat/air-conditioning controller and installs it in your  house.

For FREE!!!!!

And it has the added ‘benefit’ that with this controller, you will be helping stabilize the load in our electricity supply, because when there is a ‘crunch’, the government can automatically access this meter and change your temperature setting by a few degrees if the electricity grid load is too high….

PEOPLE ACTUALLY SIGN UP FOR THIS!!!!!!

VOLUNTARILY!!!!

It makes me want to scream – or cry.  Just thinking about it, I feel a migrane coming on…

Which brings me to OnStar…

A few years ago, I purchased a new vehicle which came with a ‘free one-year OnStar service’.  So, I read the terms and conditions of the contract – you know, the small print.  And I was shocked at what I read there.  Not shocked that they would want these powers – but that anyone would agree to this.  I do not have the contract in front of me, so I am going from memory (and paraphrasing), but the things that stuck out most in my mind were:

  • At any point, OnStar could disable the vehicle.  Remotely.  Without my permission.  At their ‘discretion’.
  • At any point, they could ‘monitor’ for ‘training purposes’ any vehicle they wanted.
  • They could listen in to conversation in the vehicle and share the information with law-enforcement at their discretion.

Now, I don’t know whom these OnStar people are employing – but I doubt that the employees are making much over minimum wage.  Yet, these are the very people whom I would hand the permission to use their discretion over my private information?  Not likely!

So, I said I would purchase the vehicle – but only on the condition that the OnStar thing NEVER gets connected.  This seemed to shock the sales-people – they obviously thought me a nut, which was perfectly fine with me, but after much hmmmm-ing and haaaaw-ing, they produced the required paperwork.

Now I was purchasing the vehicle – but ‘waiving’ the OnStar contract and the sales bill also included a hand-written clause that said OnStar would never receive ANY of our information and the system would never be activated.  I was ‘safe’, right?

Well, not exactly…

Even though my sales contract specifically stated that the OnStar system must never become activated and none of our information (including our name) would be shared with OnStar, something had obviously gone wrong.

A few weeks into the ownership of the vehicle, while driving down the street, the OnStar people started TALKING TO US through the console!

No, I did not push the ‘OnStar’ button.  And, even if I had, according to the condition in our sales contract, the cell-phone number necessary to activate the system was never to have been obtained for this vehicle…

So, what did the OnStar people have to say to us?

The voices (sometimes male, but usually female) informed us that their records about us are incomplete and that we need to contact their office in order to enjoy fully our free year of service….

I was not happy.

I called the dealership to complain – and was clearly not believed that this was happening.  According to their paperwork, it was physically impossible and the person I spoke to was obviously wondering if the voices I was hearing were really from the OnStar unit and not just inside my head.

It got worse.

At about the same time, we started receiving letters – through the mail – from OnStar.

With our names and full address – and listing the VIN number of the vehicle we bought, telling us that there was now only one tiny step we needed to take – confirm their information was correct – to begin enjoying our ‘full year of free service’!

Predictably, I went medieval on the car dealership that sold me the vehicle.  (Now, whenever I call or come in, only managers or higher are permitted to interact with me and I get the red-carpet treatment…but that is another story.  The dealer was blameless in this – but the people they represent weren’t.)

To make my story short (OK, slightly less laborious), I threatened to not just return the car, but also to sue them for breach of contract.  Which ‘they ‘did breach – some ‘they’ along the line.

The dealer was the one whose signature was on my contract….so I would need to sue the dealer and the dealer would then get to sue whomever else next ‘up the chain’ – as I explained to them slowly and clearly when they swore up and down that not one person at the dealership gave OnStar my name, address and the VIN of the vehicle I had purchased.  Which someone  somewhere along the line clearly did – and I had the correspondence from OnStar to prove it.

Within a day or two, the dealership had brought in a special tech who had disconnected the OnStar unit completely – and insisted I watch.  They had to take the whole front dash off to get to it…

However, the tech told me an interesting piece of information:  in some current models – and eventually ALL future models – this OnStar technology is being hooked up through the starter mechanism of the vehicle itself.  The upshot of this is that if the OnStar antenna/monitor is physically disconnected, these vehicle will not start.

And if it is not physically disconected, your data is theirs – whether you have a plan or not.

So could not but chuckle when I came across this story:  OnStar had now changed its terms of use to make it perfectly legal for themsleves to sell – SELL – all the information gathered about you via their box:  from your movements, to your seatbelt use, speeding habits, when and where you fill up, and so on.  (This last bit will come in handy when governments decide to impose a ‘per-vehicle’ mile/kilometer travel allowance, after which the owners will be charged an extra ‘eco-consumption-tax’ – come on, you can see it coming!)

So, now, OnStar says openly that they will collect your data, whether or not you want (as disconnecting their data-collection unit physically will make your car not start) and then sell it to other corporations and the government.

Isn’t ‘collusion of industry with government, limiting the freedoms of he individual’ the very dictionary definition of ‘fascism’?

 

UPDATE:  OnStar announces that it will no longer tell people that they are continuing to collect their data – so there is a chance that cops may not openly use this info against citizens…

Will Ontario Conservatives loose a second election on the same issue that lost them the last one?

Four years ago, Ontario Conservatives were hopeful:  after the inept mismanagement and corruption of the McGuinty regime, it seemed that a Conservative majority was assured.

Until, of course, then Conservative leader John Tory snatched defeat from the jaws of victory!  The issue that crashed the Conservatives was Tory’s promise of public funding of religious schools.  His assertion then was that  funding faith-based schools is the only way to regulate them.

Really.

He actually stood up and said this – and did not see what was wrong with this thinking.

For obvious reasons, this single stance by the Conservatives brought us another 4 years of McGuinty.  And, during this 4 year term, Mc.Guinty expanded religion in publicly funded schools; both Catholic and Public (which are ostensibly secular). Now, we see sectarian and gender segregation in tax-payer funded schools in oder for clerics to instruct the students and lead them in prayer.

And no wonder – McGuinty is sleeping with an activist for religious schools!  Quite literally – he is married to her…

But, surely, the Ontario Conservatives have learned from this, no?

They have a spanking new leader, Tim Hudak, whose parents are said to be teachers:  between that and the Tory disaster last election, surely Hudak will not be so stupid as to run on a platform of taxpayer-funded faith-based education, right?

May be, may be not…  According to this interview by Brian Lilley, it is not so certain.

Freedom of Speech under fire – again

Not surprising,  but with a twist…

Since I have been experiencing some problems with my internet connection (few minutes on, few hours off), I cannot dig into this as well as I would like to.  However, Kaffir Kanuck has an in-depth write up – perhaps you could read it there.

Let me just state, clearly and unequivocally:  freedom of speech is a core human right and we must tolerate no infringement upon it. That whole “I disagree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it” adage applies here.  For the State to use criminal law to silence a citizen is simply beyond the pale and we must all stand up and speak up against it!

At the same time, a foreign government is using SLAPP suits to successfully bully Canadian broadcasters…

Putin vs. Obama

This link leads to two pictures, one of Putin, the other of Obama.  The pictures say it all – but the comments section is unbelievable….  The sad thing is, these people are actually serious.

Posted in society. Tags: . 2 Comments »

Pirate Party gets elected in Berlin

Just in time for the International Talk Like a Pirate Day, the Pirate Party in Germany has made its legislative debut at the state level in Berlin.

And not too soon, if I may be so bold.

Why?

Because the vast majority of legislators ‘out there’ are woefully ignorant on digital issues.  What is worse – they are not only ignorant, they are not interested in educating themselves on the basic issues concerning it.  This makes them easy targets for well organized, amply funded lobbyists for industries intent on profiting fromone-sided digital policies…and from unscrupulous civil servants who want to play Big Brother – or just snoop on their neighbours!

In Canada, a whole slew of questionable digital policies are set to be rammed through the legislature this fall.  These policies will permit the police complete access to all your online communication – without a warrant!!!  And, for those of us who make our phone calls via the internet (our house phone, for example, uses voip), this DOES mean that the police would not need a warrant to listen to our phone calls…

 

In related news, the National Intelligence Service in South Korea has admitted to ‘packet tapping’ to monitor gmail communications (gmail had previously been considered to be more secure means of online communication that other systems, like Outlook, which are known to have ‘back doors’ built into them to facilitate government surveilance of private communication).  If these laws are passed in Canada, this type of outrageous government behaviour will not be a scandal – it will be ‘the law of the land’!

Too  bad that the Pirate Party of Canada seems so incompetent, and that there is not a peep from them during this Ontario election. Their wiki page does not even note the Ontario election’s existence…

I am looking for a place to park my vote – and not one of the leading candidates in my riding deserves it. It is not surprising that the voter turnout is so low!

 

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