Canada

Lawful Access – Consumer Unfriendly

The Conservative Government wishes to re-introduce legislation enabling law enforcement to access online communications without a warrant.

They believe that this would help them combat terrorism and crime. But unfortunately they may rely on internet providers to retain information on their behalf, which could be costly for the consumer because the internet providers would require more equipment and personel to do so.

In searching for illicit activity online our internet providers will be required to store vast amounts of information and these extra expendatures will be passed down to their subscribers.

According to a 2002 Statistics Canada report, law enforcement are hindered by the use of pseunomyms, anonymous remailers, dial-up connections and public wi-fi.

One can only imagine how much information would be required to keep track of suspects that use “public Internet stations in airports, bus depots, libraries, cyber-caf├ęs and convenience stores” alone, examples mentioned in the report.

Anyone using any of the above mentioned services would have their information catalogued and accessible for cross referencing and analysis, which is not only a burden on resources at the internet providers but may result in a violation of our privacy laws according to the Office Of The Privacy Commissioner Of Canada.

In an October 27th, 2009 letter to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, the Privacy Commissioner stated :

“Though isolated anecdotes abound, and extreme incidents are generally referred to, no systematic case has yet been made that demonstrates a need to circumvent the current legal regime for judicial authorization to obtain personal information. Before all else, law enforcement and national security authorities need to explain how the current provisions on judicial warrants do not meet their needs.”

The aforementioned 2002 Statistics Canada report may claim a lack of standard in cybercrime statistics, possibly resulting in a lack of classification or reporting of these crimes. But crime in Canada is down according to this June 2011 Statistics Canada report.

These costly, potentially insecure systems, are not required. Law enforcement has managed quite well with the current regulations, even with their limited manpower, and the flood of information will probably overwhelm them requiring costly automation.

This is, in my opinion, not the way to go. And this is why i’ve signed the following Openmedia.ca petition :

Please sign the above petition and contact your local Member of Parliament about this issue as soon as possible, preferably before September 19th. Thank you.

Digital TV Transition – Less Than 48 Hours

Television in Canada’s major cities will be going digital in less than 48 hours.

In the early hours of the morning on September 1st the vast majority of television networks in these cities will be converting their off the air signal, the television signal that people capture using an antenna, to digital.

If you’re subcribed to cable or satellite, you will not be required to do anything. These companies will likely convert the digital signal to analog for their customers that don’t use HDTV televisions. And those that are already subscribed to their HDTV services will not likely see any change in their services.

If you have a digital tuner equipped HDTV television and an antenna, you will need to rescan your channels to find the new digital channels and repositioned channels. And if you have an outdoor antenna you will probably have no problem watching the stations you already watch, unless you watch CBC and/or Radio-Canada because they have delayed their analog to digital transition for a year in some smaller markets.

Viewers that use indoor antennas will likely need to reposition their antenna and rescan to find the best signal.

Most VHF/UHF antennas will suffice in the major urban centers, including most of the older models. But many sub-urbanites will require attic or outdoor antenna installations to obtain the best signals.

Amplified antennas are another option but these should be able to capture both VHF and UHF signals ; Many antennas claiming to be “HDTV” may only capture UHF signals and some Canadian broadcasters will still be using the VHF band after the transition.

In regards to individuals who use analog televisions or HDTVs that are not equipped with a digital tuner, they will still be able to watch their local stations if they purchase a digital to analog converter box, which will be installed in-between their antenna and television. But as previously mentioned cable and satellite subscribers will not be required to do anything, even if they have analog televisions or HDTV televisions that are not equiped with digital tuners, because these digital signals will be converted into analog signals by their cable or satelite company.

Depending on your viewing preferences and physical location, you may be able to substitute your cable or satelite with digital television, with is usually clearer because it is uncompressed.

I’ve personally disconnected my extra outlets in my second floor bedrooms and replaced them with digital antennas, saving the associated fees and taxes. And i’ve had very good results placing these antennas near my windows.

Like many people in Ottawa, i’m having problems with Global and Omni 2 because of their weak signals. But i’m guessing they will eventually be conhearsed into better coverage.

4G Deals Near The Border ?

AllthingsD reported that the Canadian and American government has struck a deal to share the 700 MHz band along the border. This may result in 4G wireless broadband service deals for communities along the border after the implementation of digital television in Canada on September 1st.

Walmart’s Online Movie Rental Service

Walmart has decided to offer online movie rentals in the states, via the Vudu service they had purchased in March 2010.

There is no news in regards to a Canadian service yet.

Spotify Now Available In America – Canada Next ?

Spotify has launches in the United States.

This advertisement funded service offers over 15 million tracks free to Windows and Mac users, as well as paid services for people who want to download individual selections or want to enjor the service without advertisements.

This service has signed contracts with numerous indie labels and major labels EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner. But there is no news in regards to a Canadian service yet, though Rdioicon currently offers advertisement free services to Canadians for $4.99 per month, $9.99 for services to mobile phones.

The above mentioned subscription rates are comparible to those listed at Spotify.

Two Months To Go !

The digital television transition in Canada is two months away.

This means television stations airing in Canada’s major cities will no longer broadcast in analog over the air. But this signal will be replaced by a digital signal that most LCD, LED and plasma televisions are ready to receive via antenna. Most other televisions will require a digital to analog converter box to receive off the air television signals.

Of course those of you who subscribe to cable, satellite and IPTV services will not need to do a thing. But on September 1st, 2011 you may have this additional option, depending on where you live.

I’ve dropped my extra outlets and have hooked up several televisions to an antenna, saving $7 in fees per month. And from the information gathered from TV Fool, it appears that I should get all but one or two of my local channels after the transition, which will probably come in if I invest in the Terk antenna i’m eyeing.

Those who have or are able to erect an antenna outside will probably have the best luck getting the further transmissions. But i’m also considering an attic installation myself, to get all the local stations and possibly PBS from Norwood, NY.

I managed to get the latter with an indoor antenna last summer for a few days and i’m hoping to get it more regularly.

I will of course be doing quite a large amount of experimenting in the last few days of August. But of course it’ll be worth it, just to get off cable.