The Core Problem with Bill C30

The core problem with Bill C30 (you know the one interchangeably referred to as either the “Internet Spying Act” or the “Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act”, depending on your partisanship) is that it doesn’t deal with any core problems.

There is a reason people break rules, both online and in the real world. They always have, and they always will. And we live in a society that doesn’t try to change that, we just seem more interested in punishing people for doing those bad things. We seem to evermore operate with the theory that if we can just build a big enough paddle, we can either spank all the bad guys into oblivion or they’ll just be so scared of us waving the damn thing around, they’ll think twice about doing bad things. (Or, more likely, find a new way around getting caught and punished.)

And that’s why I think Bill C30 is about the most back-assed piece of legislation I’ve ever heard of. It demonstrates that we as a society lack intelligent creativity. We lack the ability to think deeply about a problem and search for its root. Our capacity for logical research, analysis, evaluation and solutions-building has clearly been flushed down the toilet, and Bill C30 is the paper we’re wiping our collective butt with. We don’t want to figure out how to stop people from doing bad things. We just want to smash them into oblivion after they do them.

There’s always a reason why people do bad things. There are reasons people produce and consume kiddie porn (I shudder to think of what they might be, of course). There are reasons that people pirate movies — one of which was brilliantly captured by The Oatmeal today (I tried to watch Game of Thrones and this is what happened). There are reasons people steal identities and commit fraud. Wouldn’t we be smarter to recognize and study those reasons, work towards squashing them, and then apply our newfound understanding of the problems to prevent more people from doing those bad things? 

Bill C30 is the equivalent of walking through a field of thorn bushes and stopping every so often to apply some bandages, only to then continue through the field. Sure, that might be the most direct route to your destination, but wouldn’t it be smarter to stop and think, then find a route that doesn’t tear your flesh to ribbons?

Like, when my kid does something bad, I don’t yell at him or spank him or ground him. I talk to him, evaluate the root cause of the bad action, and I work with him to make sure he understands why what he did was bad and that he doesn’t do it again. I mean, I could put an ankle bracelet on him and fit his parka with a video camera so that I could know where he is all day and collect data about everything he does, then spank the tar out of him when he comes home after saying a bad word at school. That would be a true Bill C30 approach. But that would be really stupid, too.

I wish the government, instead of drafting a privacy-sapping bill that is designed to punish after the fact, had sat down and put some serious, intelligent thought into the root causes of the problems they’re targeting and come up with some intelligent, informed solutions. It would be way better to have no child pornographers than a country of prisons full of them.

Really, in the end, the government has just proposed a lame technical solution to a technical problem that a world of hackers will devote their lives to finding a way around. And they’ll do it on principle, not to help child pornographers (that will just be an unfortunate side effect). Bill C30 is not a solution, it’s a band aid applied to a sore on the skin of society. I’d prefer we figure out why the sore exists and remedy it.

Conservative Internet Spying Bill is the Gun Registry of the Information Age

Trading bullets for bits, the Conservative government is this week replacing the infamously invasive and expensive long gun registry with a disturbing piece of pricey government paranoia, the internet registry.

In expressing the delusional underpinnings of his government’s new internet spying bill, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews decreed that folks who don’t support his proposed law are in league with child pornographers.

He delivered that illogical edict right about the time he solicited NDP support to scrap the long gun registry by saying, “It does nothing to help put an end to gun crimes nor has it saved one Canadian life”.

(In truth, there’s been a 41% reduction in homicides by long guns since the registry was introduced. But it’s well known Conservatives don’t deal in facts, so we’ll ignore that for now.)

Toew’s statement is actually hilarious because, no doubt, ten years and a few billion tax dollars from now, some NDP minister is going to say the exact same thing about his internet registry. Continue reading

Who Cares About International Data Privacy Day?

International Data Privacy Day came and went last weekend and I’m going to hazard a guess that you didn’t really notice.

In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that instead of observing it, you posted another photo or 2 (or 40, or 100) to Facebook. Or maybe you tweeted about what you ate for lunch that day. Or you uploaded yet another confidential work document to Google Docs.

As we and our information become ever more commoditized by Facebook, Twitter, Google and their ilk, privacy seems to be going out of style.

Heck, with an historic IPO looming, Facebook’s about to dig into us even deeper with another $10 billion or so of funding.

These guys get it: we are an incredible source of value to advertisers. And when provided a soapbox, we won’t hesitate to flash our undies at them. Continue reading