Conservative Party

Lawful Access Missing For Latest Proposals

It appears the Conservative Government has omited lawfull access from their latest crime reform bill, named the “Safe Streets and Communities Act“, which was tabled today.

Lawful access may be introduced later. But it appears that the 70,000+ signature petition may have caused this delay and may result in a more indepth review of this proposal.

New Parliamentary Session Starts Today

Parliament will be in session today and many bills are scheduled to be introduced by the last scheduled sitting day in December, including two re-introduced bills that consumers should be made aware of.

Both should be of concern to Canadian consumers as they are scheduled to be re-introduced with little to no changes, possibly resulting in a loss in the ability to make private copies from copy protected recordings, loss of privacy when it comes to the internet and higher subscription fees for internet access.

Long-awaited copyright bill returns, but top court to wade in too

Long-awaited copyright bill returns, but top court to wade in too.

The above link is to an article from The Winnipeg Free Press, which confirms that the government intends on re-introducing Bill C-32, as is.

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 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.

So, what does it mean ?

As you may have heard the Conservative Party was elected as a majority in Canadian Parliament yesterday, the New Democratic Party having been elected into the opposition. And you must be wondering what next ?

Well, it obvious that copyright reform will likely be on the agenda shortly.

When the election was called Bill C-32 died whilst it was being reviewed by a legislative committee, the legislation’s digital lock provisions having been a major issue.

Had Bill C-32 passed, consumers in Canada would have been able to make private copies but would not have been able to circumvent copy protection to do it.

This meant that the counsumer would again be subjected to the whims and experimentations of the film and music distributors, who in the past had attempted to impose digital locks that kept people from copying material, even for personal use, to the extent that it caused security issues (i.e Sony BMG’s rootkit).

Basically Bill C-32 appeared to give the music and film industries an ability to disable private copying whenever it suited them, independently from the democratic process, whilst possibly giving them the ability to impose additional levies to conform to several World Intellectual Property Organization treaties. And of course this didn’t bode well with the Canadian consumer, who refused to pay the exhorbitant rates proposed on iPods/mp3 players and were wary of RIAA style copyright litigation.

Format shifting, the ability to copy copyrighted material from one medium or device to another, will probably remain a major issue in the forthcoming new copyright reform bill. And i’m hoping we have progressed on the issue.

The majority of consumers simply want more control in regards to the accessibility and portability of the content they purchase. They should not be subjected to obtuse allegations of piracy nor should be subjected to levies or taxes on devices on which they store legally purchased material.

Royalties are obtained from this legally purchased material, some of which is dependant on the existance of devices that enable the consumer to access this material.

For example, if it weren’t for iPods and mp3 players the consumer would not be purchasing music downloads from legal distributors, who pay royalties to rights agencies.

Levies on such devices may sound good to some artists but in reality it would result in fewer purchases because the consumer would eventually be presented these extra costs by the manufacturers. After all, the WIPO treaty ratifications would have resulted in additional levies for foreign content, resulting in prohibitive costs for the consumer.

This may be being sold as a compensation scheme for artists and composers but in reality quite a large amount of levies collected from the sale of blank audio media failed to be distributed from the current levy.

According to the Canadian Private Copyright Collective ‘s financial highlights, only $183,301,000 of the $284,878,000 collected from 1999 to 2009 was distributed. And nearly 11% of the monies collected were used as expendatures by the collective itself.

One can only guess how much of these levies would remain available for distribution if international copyright owners were to get levies. But is clear that all of these schemes would be quite costly to the consumer.

In March 2002, the CPCC had requested a rate of $21 per gig, as publisized in the Canada Gazette, and the Copyright Board had decided on a rate of $15 or $25 per device in December 2003 until having their decision overturned by the Federal Court Of Appeal, twice.

I certianly hope both the Conservatives and New Democrats appreciate the fact that this is not the time to hinder the sale of consumer products by introducing costly levies that fail to be distributed to the artists and composers.