Nov 292013
 November 29, 2013  Posted by  Business

Joe Cadillic sent me a link to an article on Testosterone Pit that begins:

The first thing I noticed after I’d removed the glossy brochure and a letter from the 8.5 x 11 envelope was the crisp $5 bill attached to the letter. I’m a sucker for free money. After peeling it off and securing it in my pocket, I started reading. It was addressed to “Dear current resident of …,” followed by my address. The five bucks was “our way of thanking you for considering participation,” the letter said. Participation in what?

“An exciting and very important new research study conducted for Google by GfK,” it said. It sounded harmless. The proposition? My involvement in “Screenwise” would help Google understand how I “use different types of media” and improve its “products and services.” In return, I’d get some money. How much wasn’t exactly clear up front due to the different steps and conditions. So, sucker for free money, I read on.

I would also get a “free top-of-the-line wireless Cisco router,” it said. Ha, I already have one of those, but this router would be special. It would collect all data flowing through it and send it to Google and GfK. A spy router!

Read more about it on Testosterone Pit while I go mutter to myself. I doubt any of my readers would sign up for the offer they describe, but it’s hard to believe it’s even for real….

Nov 282013
 November 28, 2013  Posted by  Govt, Non-U.S., Online, Surveillance

Privacy Commissioner of Canada Jennifer Stoddart today issued the following statement in response to requests for her Office’s preliminary comments on Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act:

My Office is currently reviewing the Bill thoroughly and, in particular, we are examining legal controls over any new investigative powers.  We will make our full comments to Parliament in due course, with the goal of contributing constructively to the eventual study of this Bill in keeping with our role as an Agent of Parliament.

We commend the government for recognizing the gravity of privacy intrusions online, and for proposing action to address the issue of cyberbullying.

We recognize that law enforcement authorities need up-to-date tools to fight online crime at a time of when technologies are changing rapidly, but this must be done in a way that respects Canadians’ fundamental right to privacy.

As for our preliminary observations on Bill C-13, we note that many troubling aspects of the former Bill C-30 have not been repeated, for example, warrantless access to personal information.  However, we have questions about the following issues:

  • new investigative powers, (including preservation orders) proposed by the Bill and the thresholds for their use;
  • the potentially large number of “public officers” who would be able to use these significant new powers; and
  • a lack of accountability and reporting mechanisms to shed light on the use of new investigative powers.

My Office was not consulted on the Bill and the first time we saw a copy was Wednesday, November 20th, when the legislation was tabled. Justice Canada officials met with officials from our Office this summer, at which time we discussed specific recommendations made in a report by Federal-Provincial and Territorial officials on cyberbullying.

We look forward to sharing more comprehensive comments on the Bill with Parliament.

Nov 282013
 November 28, 2013  Posted by  Business, Non-U.S.

Thomas Escritt reports:

 Google’s practice of combining personal data from its many different online services violates Dutch data protection law, the country’s privacy watchdog said on Thursday after a seven-month investigation.

The Dutch Data Protection Authority, or DPA, asked Google to attend a meeting to discuss its concerns, after which it would decide whether to take any action against the cloud services, Internet search and advertising giant, which could include fines.

Read more on Reuters.

Nov 282013
 November 28, 2013  Posted by  Non-U.S., Surveillance

David Ljunggren reports:

Canada allowed the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct widespread surveillance during the 2010 Group of 20 summit in Toronto, according to a media report that cited documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp is the latest potential embarrassment for the NSA as a result of Snowden’s leaks, although it remains unclear precisely what information the agency was looking for during the summit.

Read more on Reuters.