By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - 32 Comments
When I caution people about the coming Lawful Access spying laws, there’s often some confusion. Many assume that spying on the Internet is like putting a wiretap on a phone. So the police will be able to listen to my Skype calls and read my emails?
Sure. But it’s much worse than that.
Lawful Access does make traditional web surveillance easier, but it will also give the police access to your “basic information” without them having to get a warrant. “Basic information” covers your real name, your online identities, your email addresses, your I.P. address, your home address and your home phone number. If the police have one of these ingredients, they can use it to get the rest.
If you’re still not concerned, wait a bit…
Under Lawful Access, ISPs will have to build surveillance technology that stores this info and makes it available to the police. Right now, if cops go to your ISP and ask for your info (this happens all the time anyhow, often without a warrant) some human at your ISP will have to dig through your digital footprints to find it. Under Lawful Access, a police web portal will be built to automate the process.
This is hugely problematic.
First of all, what happens if (when) this portal gets hacked? It won’t need to be a sophisticated hack, either. If thousands of cops are assigned logins, how much do you want to bet that one of them will use “abc123″ as a password?
But let’s assume this somehow never happens. Warrantless data-tracking is still very scary, for reasons the police themselves likely haven’t considered. As anyone who compulsively checks their email knows, once you automate information requests, remove every obstacle, remove human communication from the process and throw it all online with a big shiny “search” button, usage skyrockets.
When Sprint built a similar portal for cops to track cell phone users’ GPS coordinates, usage shot up to 8 million pings in just over a year. In their idle time, police can just fish around, see where folks are at, see which avatar belongs to which human, and play the portal like a video game, hoping to stumble upon a lawbreaker.
The next step, of course, is for the police to get automated as well. With unfettered access to a massive dataset of “basic information”, why manually run hunt and peck searches when you could just write an algorithm that’ll mash it all up and spit out the names of those statistically likely to be up to no good?
Does that sound like paranoid sci-fi? Maybe, but it’s all possible with existing technology, and is really just an extension of current trends in data analysis into law enforcement. If data is accessible, machine-readable and has predictive value, someone will build an app for that. Everyone else is using “bots”, so why shouldn’t the police?
When RoboCop comes, he will look like a line of code.
By macleans.ca - Friday, May 13, 2011 at 11:10 AM - 0 Comments
The RCMP officers involved in Robert Dziekanski’s death face perjury charges, while scientists prove Einstein was right
Some justice at last
It’s been over three years since Robert Dziekanski died at the Vancouver airport after RCMP used Tasers to subdue him. Now B.C.’s attorney general has laid perjury charges against the four officers involved for allegedly giving misleading testimony during the exhaustive Braidwood inquiry. While some, including Dziekanski’s mother, Zofia Cisowski, are disappointed the charges don’t relate to the tasering itself, Cisowski still applauded the move. The wheels of the law may be slow, but they do keep moving, and in this sad case the charges offer at least some measure of justice.
Harnessing hot air
Energy sources such as wind and solar could provide 80 per cent of the world’s power supply within four decades if governments provide the cash and policies to make it happen. That is the landmark conclusion of a UN panel that says it’s not too late to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a “safe” level. In the meantime, farmers are enjoying the heat. According to separate research, Canadian crops have been largely spared from the scourge of climate change—and our historically hard-luck farmers are profiting from increased demand.
When the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded this year’s Peace Prize to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, it was a blow to China’s human rights record. But the big winner may be Scottish fish farmers. In a fit of pique, China has stopped buying salmon from Norway—its biggest supplier—and signed a deal with Scotland. Perhaps that contributed to the unprecedented majority won by Alex Salmond’s Scottish National Party in the May 5 elections. Good news for nationalist politicians, not so much for fish.
It’s all relative
A NASA study has confirmed two of the “most profound predictions” about Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity: that space and time are both warped and pulled by Earth’s gravity. Astrophysicists say the results, based on data measured by an orbiting space probe, will have implications “beyond our planet.” In other physics news: engineers have developed a golf ball that won’t slice. Now there’s a breakthrough we can relate to.
In the post-Mubarak era, Egypt is transitioning, but to what? Christians and Muslims clashed in Cairo, leaving 12 dead and two churches in smoldering ruins, amid signs Islamist hard-liners are asserting their power. At the same time, Syria continued its crackdown against anti-government protesters, killing scores of people and injuring hundreds, while in Libya, forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi hammered rebels. Clearly the fight is far from over for the pro-democracy movement across the Middle East.
Tens of thousands more baby boomers will face retirement without a company pension plan, Statistics Canada reported this week. Since the recession, membership in private sector plans has fallen below that of the public sector for the first time ever. Which is why Canadians should be cheering the Canada Pension Plan’s tripling of its 2009 investment in Internet-calling-company Skype, recently purchased by Microsoft for US$8.5 billion. Unless you work for the civil service or at a university, the CPP may be all the help you will get.
Lord Triesman, the chair of England’s failed bid for the 2018 World Cup of soccer, is alleging at least four FIFA members demanded bribes for their votes, including a knighthood for Paraguay’s representative. Trinidad’s football head wanted $2.5 million cash for an “educational centre.” London’s Sunday Times reports two West African delegates were paid $1.5 million to support Qatar’s winning bid. And in France, the national team is embroiled in scandal after it emerged officials considered quotas to limit the number of African and Arab-born players on their development squads. The ugly side to the beautiful game.
A good marriage isn’t necessarily built on love or even physical attraction, suggests new research in the Journal of Politics. Among the strongest shared traits between U.S. spouses is their political attitudes, the study found. The political bond forms early in marriages, but it’s not always enough to keep them together. Just ask political power-couple Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, who separated this week.
By Yoni Goldstein - Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 6:40 PM - 0 Comments
The year’s biggest mergers
Alex Rodriguez and Kate Hudson
The baseball slugger and ﬁlm starlet confirmed their relationship in July, though Hudson pretty much gave away the secret by following A-Rod’s Yankees across the U.S. during the baseball season. In February, Rodriguez admitted to using steroids between 2001 and 2003—which proves that women love an “honest” man.
Peter MacKay and Jana Juginovic
The hunk on the Hill is engaged, and this time the object of his affection isn’t a fellow pol. MacKay announced his engagement to Juginovic, director of programming at CTV News Channel, in November. Jack, the MacKay family dog, is reportedly happy—his master walks him way too often when there’s no amour in his life. Eat your heart out, Belinda and Condi.
Disney and Marvel
Disney got significantly cooler in August when it announced a US$4-billion deal to buy Marvel Entertainment. Walt’s company will finally have a stable of strong heroes—Iron Man and Wolverine come to mind. Perhaps the Marvel guys will find a way to toughen up Mickey and Pinocchio.
Archie and Veronica
First he married Veronica. Then he married Betty. But Archie’s no bigamist—both were “dreams.” Could you see this ending any other way? The redhead has been stringing these two on for 70 years. Some may say he’s got the best of both worlds—one rich girl, one nice girl—why ruin it by choosing Veronica? By the way, have you noticed Betty and Veronica look exactly the same, except for their hair colour?
Suncor and Petro-Canada
“I don’t know if it is a marriage made in heaven. But it is a match made in Canada,” Suncor’s CEO Rick George said when his company mergered with Petro-Canada. The deal protects two big players in Canada’s oil patch from foreign takeovers. It also means we have one less company to blame the next time gas prices skyrocket.
Michael Vick and the Humane Society
Michael Vick used to be a sick puppy, now he’s helping them. The dogfighting quarterback and the Humane Society of the U.S. teamed up after Vick was released from prison in May. Now that he’s back in the NFL, we’ll see how much time he has for the Sparkys and Rexes of the world.
Fiat and Chrysler
If anyone can make Chrysler stylish again, it’s the Italian automaker. But this deal isn’t just about reviving the moribund American institution—Fiat plans to use Chrysler’s dealerships and manufacturing plants to promote its own brands (and those of subsidiary Alfa Romeo) in the North American market. As the Italians say: Chi non risica, non rosica (“Nothing ventured, nothing gained”).
Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart
Honestly, we can’t figure out whether the Twilight stars are dating or not. They keep denying a relationship, but then were recently photographed holding hands in Paris. It’s not fair to keep so many teens languishing in crush purgatory.
Ivanka Trump marries
Mazel tov! Ivanka Trump—or Yael Trump, as she’s now known—converted to Judaism and married New York Observer owner Jared Kushner on Oct. 25. She wore a Vera Wang dress. No one could tell whether Donald was wearing a yarmulka—or whether he was having another bad hair day.
CPP and Skype
The Canada Pension Plan’s purchase of a portion of the Internet phone company signals the emergence of a bolder CPP. Now that a lawsuit between Skype and the computer nerds who developed the online phone technology has been settled, pensioners can expect to see money start rolling in—over the Web, that is.