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The ISP Privacy Pledge

Unlike Mark Goldberg, I welcome the ISP Privacy Pledge initiative put forward by Online Rights Canada.  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.  There is already one police state in North America.  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”.  He asks why the ISP wouldn’t pledge to notify the police if there is evidence of illegal activity. 

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. We can choose civil disobedience, if we desire, as a form of protest. In this particular instance, the pledge is a political act, a part of the ongoing battle over copyright and DRM.  Many individuals, including myself, feel that the entertainment industry has gone too far in the US.  Now this same industry is lobbying to introduce DMCA style legislation here in Canada.  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, it is easy to 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.  Hence, “may”, not “will”. 

Mark also brings up commerical data collection activities, such as contextual ad targeting, and asks why these aren’t being targeted also.  They should be.  The organizations being asked to sign a similar pledge, however, should be the advertisers themselves.  

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Mum October 5, 2006, 9:59 am

    What does ISP stand for? Inc ome Security Programs?

  • Alec October 6, 2006, 4:21 pm

    Internet Service Provider, Ma! It’s your Shaw Cable…

  • Dad October 6, 2006, 7:27 pm

    I told you, you should publish a glossary!

    You are indiscreet in your opening paragraph. Take care!


  • Baal October 10, 2006, 12:32 am

    I also respectfully disagree with Mr. Goldberg. My ISP is in the
    business of providing me with bandwidth, maybe an email account and
    nothing else. It is none of their damned business what I do online.

    That said, however, only a fool would rely on their ISP to guarantee
    their privacy. I rely on the laws of mathematics to guarantee my
    privacy; if the authorities want my information, they're gonna
    damn well have to break my crypto to get it. I use a nymserver for
    my email–all email I send out goes through a chain of mixmaster
    remailers to the nymserver.

    Even the nymserver operator doesn't know who I am, and has no way
    of finding out. My incoming email goes to an anonymous message
    pool; even if the authorities somehow track back my reply block,
    they won't get a real email address, just a link to encrypted
    newsgroup messages they cannot read. No one reads my email without
    my consent–and I'm not about to give consent, period.

    Even as far as getting a judicial warrant is concerned–this is
    supposed to be oversight?! The three magic words to say to a
    judge to get a search warrant rubber-stamped are: "child porn" and

    The police do not have a unblemished reputation–perjury is rampant;
    witness the term "testilying." Police lie all the time–when's
    the last time anyone saw a police officer disciplined–let alone
    prosecuted–for lying, even under oath? The police are notorious
    for not disclosing exculpatory evidence to the defence. The most
    recent cases of this can be seen with respect to Operation Ore–the
    massive 'child porn' bust a few years back. Evidence has now
    come to light that the police contaminated the evidence, misled
    prosecutors and judges alike as to the nature of the evidence–I
    could practically write a book on the subject.

    A net-acquaintance of mine recently commented that he knew
    first-hand of a case in the UK where even the police officer who
    made the application was astonished that a warrant to search for
    child porn was granted, the case provided to the judge being so
    transparently bogus.

    Colour me cynical, but I have ZERO faith in the police and the
    judiciary with respect to the protection of my interests.

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