Friday, February 17, 2012

Our phishing Prime Minister

Wikipedia defines phishing as "a way of attempting to acquire information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Communications purporting to be from popular social web sites, auction sites, online payment processors or IT administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting public."

How is that any different than Stephen Harper's phishing exercise:

Critics take aim at Harper's online surveillance bill

By Sarah Schmidt,
Postmedia News February 15, 201

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper called on parliamentarians Tuesday to stand firm against child pornography and support a contentious bill that will require telecommunications companies to hand over customer information to police without a court order.

But opposition parties hit back hard by predicting the new bill will lead to an infringement of the privacy of Canadians, saying it will allow police to build a detailed profile of people, including law-abiding citizens, using their digital footprint — without any judicial oversight. They also blasted one of Harper's senior ministers who told a critic of the bill he "can either stand with us or with the child pornographers."

Even Ontario's privacy commissioner called the government's attempt to sell this bill as an effort to protect children from predators as "fear-mongering" and "spreading fear."

At issue is the government's "lawful access" legislation tabled in the House of Commons Tuesday. The legislation, newly branded by the government as the "Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act" but dubbed "online spying" by critics, is expected to pass under a Conservative majority government.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews inflamed matters Monday by saying that an opponent of the bill "can either stand with us or with the child pornographers." This comment dominated Question Period, with opposition parties calling on Harper to explain them.

"A Conservative minister accuses people who are worried about an unjustified government intrusion in their personal lives as in favour of child pornography. They're going off the rails. The question is, is this being managed by the prime minister?" asked interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel.

"With regard to child pornography, our party is totally against it and I encourage the NDP to adopt the same position," replied Harper, who invoked the protection of children in response to more questions from interim Liberal leader Bob Rae about lumping Canada's privacy commissioners in with "friends of child pornographers."

"It is important that among the provinces there really is an all-party consensus on this. I hope Parliament will study this bill carefully and make sure we do what is best for our children and our law enforcement agencies," Harper responded.

Toews, when pressed by reporters Tuesday, said that to characterize an opponent of the legislation as standing with child pornographers "is not a fair comment," claiming he never made such comments in the House of Commons Monday.

The bill will require Internet service providers and cellphone companies to install equipment for real-time surveillance and will create new police powers designed to access the surveillance data. This means police can order a telecom company to preserve data for a specified period, but must first obtain a warrant to read the actual content.

The bill will allow for the warrantless access to subscriber information — a provision that triggered a sustained campaign last year by the federal and provincial privacy commissioners to get it scrapped from the bill before the Conservatives re-introduced it. An earlier version of the bill died when the federal election was called last spring.

Currently, telecom companies can provide the personal information of customers on a voluntary basis. Companies turn over the information to law enforcement agencies in about 95 per cent of cases, but the turnaround time takes an average of 13 days, Toews told reporters Tuesday.

"The point here is this can no longer be discretionary on the part of telecommunication service providers, especially when children's lives are at stake. It's clear we need a better system," said Toews.

In addition to name, address, phone number, email address and name of service provider identifier, the bill will require companies to hand over the Internet protocol address.

The government has dropped a series of device-identification numbers from the list of basic information that must be handed over if police ask. Those numbers can facilitate the tracking of a person's movement through the location of their cellphone.

Ontario's privacy commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, called the removal of device identification numbers and a strengthened oversight system with regular audits as a "small victory." But Cavoukian said warrantless access to customers' basic subscriber information is "completely unacceptable."

"Once you have something like an IP address or some other number, that can facilitate connection with other pieces of information: websites that you visit, what activities you're engage in, what sites you surf, what you read, the videos you look at, who you connect with. It's these kinds of connections, these data linkages that can form a very detailed personal profile that can be extremely revealing," said Cavoukian.

"The police can do this on law-abiding citizens. They don't have to make the case that there's been an infraction here and they go before a judge to make the case and get a warrant. I have no problem with them going after the bad guys — of course not. I want them to do that. But that is not what warrantless access entails. And what I take great personal offense at is Minister Toews comparing all the privacy commissioners, saying we're on the side of child pornographers," said Cavoukian.

Chantal Bernier, assistant privacy commissioner of Canada, echoed Cavoukian's concerns, while characterizing the two changes as "improvements."

"But the privacy concern remains, which is the warrantless access to personal information," Bernier said in an interview.

"They're going to the personal information behind the IP address without a warrant and without a framework that limits this to criminal activity, which means, as we read that provision now, it can capture any law-abiding citizen," said Bernier, who said it's grossly unfair to peg any critic of the bill as standing with child pornographers.

"What I would reply to you is that, of course, privacy can never ever, ever stand in the way of protecting children, but that is not the issue here. The issue is warrantless access to anyone's personal information in Section 16 of the bill."


Dr Mike said...

The fact that they had to rebrand this law from "Lawful Access" to "Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act" should tell us something.

It`s the old wolf in sheep`s clothing all over again.

These guys can`t be trusted.

Dr Mike Popovich

Bruce Benson said...

Hey Mike was it you who mentioned what the CON’s were saying that compared the Long Gun Registry as the persecution of innocent law abiding gun owners. If that type of persecution had to go then why is the persecution of millions of law abiding internet users OK with the "Lawful Access to Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act"? Talk about hypocrites.

Dr Mike said...

Hey Bruce

Don`t forget the Long Form Census , that nasty piece of work that the Cons said jailed those who didn`t want their privacy violated---like how many bathrooms do you have , or how many pets do you own.

These guys are incredible

It appears they are willing to forgo the bathroom count for my email info & bank card number.

Dr Mike

Anonymous said...

Then there is the HST on the amount the fee was raised. Sounds like double taxation to me. Now where did I hear that before? BB

Anonymous said...

Phishing is an interactive process with the user you are trying to get data from.
What the Cancer Party of Canada plans on doing is not interactive and the user is never contacted and so has no chance of stopping their data from being grabbed.
The only possibility of stopping this is if all communications you do are encrypted.
Using secure connections like https://, but this has limitations as it requires both sides of internet communications to use it, and for the most part this is not the case.


Brent Fullard said...

I think the aspect that makes Harper's eaves dropping similar to the concept of phishing is the part that part of the definition that reads " "acquire information by masquerading as a trustworthy entity".

Harper is attempting to get the power to spy on Canadians internet lives by masquerading as a trustworthy entity , which he clearly is not, but we've known that since October 31, 2006.

Bruce Benson said...

The government already knows most everything about a person now, they know your SIN and how much money you make, how much money you have, where you live, your assets like your RRSP's, LIF's etc with information faithly supplied by your favorite bank. Now they want more. As Elizabeth May said, if you attend a rally, big brother will know you were there if you carried a cell phone to it. Now that is real power, time for some smash and grab, ie you find yourself in jail for having the nerve to criticize our dear leaders. Leave the law as it is, force police to get a court order, we don't need a police state.

Anonymous said...

Ah this Harper is learning fast, you want the China money we need information from you. The Long Gun Registry is protecting some hunter in the bush but Harper thinks all Canadians are sick child Porn lovers.

Well Harper we still have those blacked out documents on the fraud income trust
decision to de-ink !

The Harper Clan's have lost it !

Anonymous said...

well it serves all those people right who voted for this guy. Trouble is the rest of us have to suffer because of it.