internet

Get Your Security Updates !

A new Wi-Fi exploit has been discovered and you should update all of your devices a.s.a.p.

That includes anything that uses wi-fi, from your desktop/laptop to tablet/cell phone. And yes, some devices will not be patched immediately so keep trying.

Microsoft has patched their software, from Windows 7 to 10, and Apple is currently working on getting their iOS patches up and running, having already released them for developers. But Android users may need to wait until November 6th, 2017 for an update.

In the case of Linux operating systems and routers, OpenBSD systems have already been patched and patches are available for Debian-based systems. But most of the router manufacturers are working on firmware updates so you’ll need to contact your Internet Provider or Router manufacturer for details on that.

The problem is the KRACK wi-fi vulnerability, which is an issue to anyone that accesses non-secured websites online and doesn’t use a Virtual Private Network to do so. But it should be noted that Android and Linux users are more vulnerable to the exploit than anyone else because most of the other desktop and laptop operating systems are more complex.

The good news is that if you rent a cable modem from your internet provider, it will be updated by your internet provider soon (if it isn’t already updated). And if you don’t use your tablet and phone to browse the net outside your home, you will likely not have an issue.

If you use public wi-fi services in hotels or at your local coffee shop/restaurant, then I would recommend keeping an eye on updates and getting a virtual private network set up on your device to encrypt your internet, including those unencrypted sites you browse on.

By the way, there’s no point in changing your wireless password but you should change your router’s admin password, especially if it’s been left at default. :-/

No to Internet Tax !

Apparently Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly is considering an Internet Tax to fund Canadian content, according to University of Ottawa professor Micheal Geist. And unfortunately for Canadians this tax may make internet access more expensive.

There are currently two taxes being considered ; One on content providers like Netflix and iTunes and another general sales tax on internet access. And although the previous tax may sound better than the latter, one has to wonder if all music, television programs and films purchased or rented online would be subjected to this tax, including those that are made available through the internet television providers.

SiriusXM subscribers are already subject to taxes and a “Music Royalty and Regulatory Fee of 14.2%”. But would the service also be subjected to this additional tax ? Will Apple Music subscribers need to pay for this additional tax ?

We currently pay nothing to listen to radio and to watch television offline. We also already pay taxes on compact disc, DVD and blu-ray purchases, which would not be subject to this new tax. It therefore makes no sense to charge people more taxes for the same content, especially when it involves the streaming of purchases matched or uploaded to a Cloud service.

Why does the government not fund Canadian Content by taxing Canadian broadcasters that run adverts online, when they stream foreign content ?

I’m sure Rogers and Bell would likely oppose this because they’d likely rather see the foreign services taxed instead. But the foreign services have no legal obligation to collect these taxes and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement would disallow this requirement, if passed.

We also currently pay taxes on our internet provider subscription fees so any additional tax would simply make it unaffordable for many Canadians.

Canadians spent on average $203 per month on communication services in 2014, according to a CRTC Report released in 2015, an increase of approximately 6% from 2013 ($11.92). And according to CBC News, there was a 10% increase on wireless and internet services specifically from 2013.

To dissuade use of foreign services like Netflix and iTunes, Canadians are also already subject to data caps and the proposed tax would simply make the unlimited internet plans less affordable.

Many Canadians also still pay a “Digital Services Fee” on their cable, satellite and television subscriptions, a fee that cannot be justified now that an analog service has been fazed out.

Could the government not demand this fee be replaced with a Canadian Content Improvement Fund fee instead ? Or will this obsolete fee be buried like that of Bell’s $2.80 Touch-Tone fee, which netted Bell $80 Million in 2013 according to CBC News ?

At the moment Bell is claiming the Digital Service Fee is collected to improve their services. But isn’t that what their investors are paying for ? Why their customers are being asked to pay more per month for television ?

Prior to September 2014, cable and satellite television subscribers in Canada paid a monthly 1.5% fee to the Local Programming Improvement Fund, which netted $106 million in 2011 for television stations in markets smaller than a million. And although this fee was discontinued, these subscribers barely noticed because they were asked to pay more for their television subscriptions shortly after.

The average monthly rate for television services paid by Canadians climbed from $65.25 in 2014 to $66.08 in 2015, according to CBC News ; A difference of 83 cents per month when the average monthly rate for Canadians for the Local Programming Improvement Fund was 50 cents. And with the mandated “skinny package” changes some have seen their monthly rates rise significantly since the spring of 2016.

I believe it makes more sense to apply a Canadian Content fee of a dollar or two to the sale of television antennas, digital converter boxes, digital television receivers/set top boxes, satellite/internet radio receivers and streaming media players in Canada, although some members of the public would likely not enjoy the prospect of paying it in addition to a Provincial environmental handling fee and having both fees taxed.

Perhaps a monthly fee of 1.5% on unlimited internet packages or bundled packages over $150/month would be the path of least resistance because it would likely be negligible to the subscribers of these specific bundles or packages.

The CRTC Wants Your Comments On Your Internet

Whether you think it’s too slow, spotty or expensive, the CRTC wants know.

Click here to access their questionnaire.

Rolling Up The Sleeves

So, the election results are in and now it’s time to start asking questions.

What parts of Bill C-51 will remain unaltered and what changes are to be expected under the new government ? Will Canadians be burdened with extra costs to implement these surveillance programs ? What measures will be taken to keep the data secure ?

Does the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement include further intrusions into our copyright ? Will the public be consulted in regards to the key provisions of this agreement prior to signing ? Will our recent reforms be bypassed and superseded by foreign entities and lobbyists ?

We will of course all need to wait until the next budget to know what investments the new government is planning for our digital strategy. But we should know who will be assigned to the key cabinet positions shortly.

Cyberbullying vs Privacy

Bell Canada customers have just received noticed stating their internet bills will be raised by $5 per month, effective June 1st,2014. And of course people who are unaware of the issue would not know why I have just mentioned this in relation to cyberbullying and privacy.

Unfortunately people are unaware that Bill C-13 calls for an extensive amount of record keeping in relation to cyberbullying and other crimes than can be performed online. And this will require equipment and staffing by internet providers, whose associated costs will be handed down to customers.

As a victim of harassment online you might think that I would support such a measure but the costs to Canadians is not only limited to these higher rates. Bill C-13 proposes questionable leniencies in regards to privacy and even cyberbullying victims like Carol Todd are concerned about privacy :

“I don’t want to see our children to be victimized again by losing privacy rights. I am troubled by some of these provisions condoning the sharing of Canadians’ privacy information without proper legal process.” – Carol Todd, mother of Amanda Todd.

Carol Todd has asked a Parliament committee on Bill C-13 to separate to more controversial portions of the bill to "allow this bill to be free of controversy and to permit a thoughtful and careful review of the privacy related provisions that have received broad opposition". And I agree because these more questionable parts of the bill may be challenged legally, causing the whole bill to fail.

Harassment should be addressed as should the distribution of illegal photographs and video recordings. But other issues have been added to the bill to justify the loss of privacy and none of the proponents of this bill appear to want to address the possibly failures in the technicalities of this bill.

In interview after interview they deny it will cost Canadians their privacy yet are unable to explain why certain parts of the bill cannot be rewritten to address the concerns.

Warrants can be invalidated in law if certain conditions are not met and this bill proposes that no warrants are required to collect, share and store information, circumventing the conditions imposed on warrants. 

Warrants in no way facilitate luring and the creation and distribution of child pornography so why is it necessary to bypass warrants ? And warrants can address cases of cyberbullying that involve death threats, threats of bodily harm and threats to property because of our current criminal code.

Internet providers can also implement their own policing on other cases by enforcing their own terms of service agreements on their customers, some of which restrict the use of their services to impede the use of the internet by others and include provisions allowing them to provide information to the authorities when a crime is alleged.

Could they not restrict the use of their services to send unsolicited requests for a recipient’s suicide or threats involving the distribution of an image or recording of the recipient ? Could they not state that such acts would result in information being shared with law enforcement, with or without an account holder’s consent or knowledge ?

As a person who has never asked someone to commit suicide or threatened someone with death, bodily harm or with the distribution of an image or recording, my privacy would remain intact under a split Bill C-13. And a guilty party would be convicted under the conditions of a properly issued warrant, without the more controversial portions of the bill, so why am I being asked to sacrifice my privacy ? 

Security Flaw Found In IE

Microsofticon is currently working on fixing a bug that has been found in versions 6 to 11 of Internet Explorer and the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team has issued a press release asking individuals to use alternative browsers until the bug is fixed :

Click here to download Firefox

Click here to download Chrome

Click here to download Opera

This bug is exploited by malicious web sites so IE users can continue to use their browsers by avoiding potentially dangerous sites. XP Users should use alternative browsers.