Unlike Mark Goldberg, I welcome the ISP Privacy Pledge initiative put forward by Online Rights Canada.Â The pledge is a very concrete way to send a message to Parliament that privacy is important, and that laws providing for warrantless searches (like the US DMCA, and US Patriot Act) would reduce us to a police state.Â There is already one police state in North America.Â No need to set one up here too.
One of Mark’s objections is to wording in the pledge which says “If we see evidence of illegal activity, we may notify law enforcement”.Â He asks why the ISP wouldn’t pledge to notify the police if there is evidence of illegal activity.Â
In a civil society, we are not tasked with policing our neighbours. We have rights to speak freely, to protest, and to act according to our own collective consciences.Â We can choose civil disobedience, if we desire, as a form of protest.Â In this particular instance, the pledge is a political act, a part of theÂ ongoing battleÂ over copyright and DRM.Â Many individuals, including myself, feel that the entertainment industry has gone too far in the US.Â Now this same industry isÂ lobbying to introduce DMCA style legislation here in Canada.Â ISP’s shouldn’t be tasked with policing for the entertainment lobby. Some might view an ISPs decision to not act for the entertainment lobby a legitimate protest.
At the same time,Â it is easy toÂ imagine that an ISP discovering evidence of a particularly reprehensible crime — for instance, the distribution of child pornography — likely might choose to notify authorities.
Each individual needs to make those choices according to their own conscience.Â Hence, “may”, not “will”.Â
Mark also brings up commerical data collection activities, such as contextual ad targeting,Â and asks why these aren’t being targeted also.Â They should be.Â Â The organizations being asked to sign a similar pledge, however, should be the advertisers themselves. Â