Canada's business groups wants to hack your computer even more than the creeps at the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property

Michael Geist writes,

The Internet is buzzing over a new report from the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property that recommends using spyware and ransomware 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, 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;"

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).

The Canadian Link to Copyright Enforcement Spyware Tools

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  1. When people tried to point out they had declared war on consumers, people laughed.
    When they tried to buy laws to give them unprecedented control, people called us uninformed.
    Now might be a good time for the people to stand up and start voting the assholes out and elect people who care more about citizens than “campagin contributions”.  I might not agree with a law makers personal stance on abortion, gay marriage, or a host of other subjects but if that law maker is willing to put a stop to the stupidity we can work on the rest.

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  3. Sweet mother of god, if Canada legalizes spyware I’m going to be rich. I’m an IT guy and this creates a wonderful black market I can cater to: those willing to pay to prevent and remove legal malware infections. Presumably while they’re being idiots they’ll make it illegal to interfere with the operations of malicious software too, so that’s just gonna be under the table gravy. Jesus just look at that: “Legal Malware”. I’m livin’ in a cuckoo clock!

    1. More lucrative than dealing drugs because you don’t have to worry about being busted when telling someone that you know a lot about computers when you offer to help them with their “problem”.

  4. Hmmm….

    “”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;””

    So, if I read this correctly, I can legally install spyware in a bank because I can reasonably believe- given the plethora of public evidence – that they are contravening at least one of *any* law of Canada, any law of *a* province or municipality, but even more broadly *any* law of a foreign state.

    Right?

    1. No, because you’re a person, not a company. Bad pleb, back on your couch. American Idol is on, shush.

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