Ontario Police Inspector Says He Wants A 'Driver's License For The Internet'

from the 'for-the-children,-although,-technically,-children-aren't-old-enough-to dept

Canada’s lawful access/cyberbullying bill (C-13) is still creeping through the country’s legislative arteries and generally getting worse as time goes on — as is to be expected when adding cyberbullying to a long list of presumably thwartable horrors like terrorism, child molestation and drug smuggling. What’s desired by many is a generous expansion of government and law enforcement powers. And those desiring this expansion have the horrific scenarios needed to back up their requests for more access.

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has begun its hearings on the proposed law, opening with an appearance by law enforcement representatives. Michael Geist reports:

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) was part of the law enforcement panel and was asked by Senator Tom McInnis, a Conservative Senator from Nova Scotia, about what other laws are needed to address cyberbullying.

We’ll pause right there to briefly address McInnis, Nova Scotia and cyberbullying. McInnis is tossing out this leading question because his home province recently passed a truly terrible anti-cyberbullying law in response to a student’s death — a law that leaves it up to accusers and judges (the accused are not invited) to decide whether any sort of action or communication rises to the extremely low bar of being “harmful” to the accuser’s “emotional well-being.” If said communications are deemed to be “bullying” (again, without input from the accused), police can seize computers and other electronics, along with user data from the accused’s ISPs and then shut off internet access altogether.

Now that we know why McInnis would like to see cyberbullying addressed, we can return to the statement he received in response from Special Inspector Scott Naylor of the OPP, which ignores the Senator’s lob pass and pursues its own agenda.

If the bag was open and I could do anything, the biggest problem that I see in the world of child sexual exploitation is anonymity on the Internet. When we get our driver’s licence we’re required to get our picture taken for identification. When you get a mortgage you have to sign and provide identification. When you sign up for the Internet, there is absolutely no requirement for any kind of non-anonymity qualifier. There are a lot of people who are hiding behind the Internet to do all kinds of crime, including cybercrime, fraud, sexual exploitation and things along those lines.

Because some people do bad things (and maybe get away with it), everyone should have to apply for a license to use the internet. Sounds very Russian (and, to be honest, even slightly American) — something no government official in any part of the “free world” should even appear to be considering.

Naylor obviously realizes his idea will be unpopular, hence the “child sexual exploitation” lead-in. That makes his assertion binary. Either you’re for an internet driver’s license or you’re for child molestation: which is it? This is a common law enforcement affliction — seeing anything that makes the job slightly more difficult as a barrier to be eliminated. And, as always, technological advancements are portrayed as being solely advantageous to criminals.

The Internet is moving so quickly that law enforcement cannot keep up. If there were one thing that I would ask for discussion on is that there has to be some mechanism of accountability for you to sign on to an Internet account that makes it like a digital fingerprint that identifies it to you sitting behind the computer or something at that time. There are mechanisms to do it, but the Internet is so big and so vast at this point, and it’s worldwide, I’m not sure how that could happen, but that would certainly assist everybody. In that way I can make a digital qualification that that’s the person that I’m talking to. If I had one choice, that’s what I would ask for.

Hey, a man can dream. And then he should be asked to stop talking before he embarrasses himself further. Law enforcement agencies love busting criminals, but seem to resent everything else about the job, like performing investigations, acquiring warrants, etc. Naylor wants a nice, tidy database of internet users he can access whenever he feels he needs to. Senator McInnis, who should know better than to touch a politically-toxic idea like this, not only approved this comment for inclusion but stated that he “absolutely agreed” with Naylor’s Orwellian wish.

But McInnis and Naylor have no idea what they’re asking for/agreeing with, at least not in terms of the Canadian court’s position on online anonymity.

Leaving aside the deeply troubling inference of requiring licences to the use the Internet in the same manner as obtaining a driver’s licence, the police desire to stop online anonymity suggests that the OPP has not read the Supreme Court of Canada Spencer decision very carefully. If it had, it would know that not only does the court endorse a reasonable expectation of privacy in subscriber information, but it emphasizes the importance of online anonymity in doing so.

Naylor and McInnis have just sacrificed their credibility for one of the shoddiest and overused of rhetorical devices: child molestation. Much like terrorism, the threat of pedophilia is summoned as often as is needed to suppress rational arguments and ensure the desired outcome is obtained. These two threats are routinely abused to route around citizens’ protections and rights. Whatever powers are granted are then deployed to handle routine criminal activity, the sort of thing that fails to move legislators or create memorable soundbites. “Child sexual exploitation” has become synonymous with mission creep and rights erosion, but those in the position to make legislative changes are rarely interested in appearing to be “soft” on sex offenders, and pitch in happily to cart away citizens’ rights and pave the way for frictionless law enforcement and mission creep.

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Comments on “Ontario Police Inspector Says He Wants A 'Driver's License For The Internet'”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Driver's License is a flawed analogy

The Driver’s License is a flawed analogy for internet use.

You already have to sign up with your ISP with name and provide billing information.

So the response to Scott Naylor
should be that he already has one name — the internet subscriber.

Of course, Naylor already knows that the subscriber may not always be the actual user.

Perhaps what’s he is trying to argue by invoking the Driver’s License analogy is that the driver = owner of the internet subscription should be responsible for logging any activity and identifying all users, doing unpaid work for the police.

What’s a Stasi state?
People are responsible for monitoring everyone within their circle, and reporting criminals to the police.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Driver's License is a flawed analogy

Actually, no it isn’t a flawed analogy.

You sign up for the ISP, then your kid or the next door neighbor uses it; they want every person to have to ID at signon. With that, all they can identify is you and that requires an argument with your ISP. They hate that; they want every person to have an individual identification immediately accessible. There’s no way to control where you go, no way to control when you go there, and no way to revoke that “privilege”.

So they the same control as they now have over someone who drives: immediate, direct identification of that person; control over when and where that person can go/visit/access; and something that can be revoked for misbehavior (which will be defined as loosely as they can get away with).

They want an ability to give out oh-so-profitable tickets…

They’re trying to turn access to the internet into a conditional privilege, in exactly the same way that driving is a conditional privilege.

They might not say all that now, but that’s because you’re seeing the kid glove, not the iron fist.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Driver's License is a flawed analogy

There’s a very valid point to having a driver’s license, though. Even the smallest cars weigh thousands of pounds, and when used in a reckless manner, can easily kill or severely injure someone, even completely by accident.

When the consequences of someone screwing up can be that disastrous, we require licensing to prove basic competence, to head off potential problems down the road. We have it for doctors, lawyers, and teachers, and we have it for people who wish to operate heavy machinery in public at highway speeds.

But that same problem scenario doesn’t really exist for Internet users. I’ve never heard of someone getting killed or maimed in a computer crash; have you? Yes, people have gotten badly hurt and even killed by malicious Internet users, but licensing does next to nothing to stop that particular problem; it’s the wrong tool for the job. This is what Senator McInnis and Inspector Naylor don’t understand.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They are right, though. They can’t keep up.

Look at the progression: due to a quirk of how the technology works, it was technically feasible for cops to tap phone conversations and track phone users. The phone system wasn’t designed to allow this, it was an by-product. Back in the day, the cops argued that they should be allowed to make use of this accidental capability and they did.

Then they grew used to it and started to perceive it as some sort of right. In the US, anyway, they even got that right enshrined in law (CALEA) and elevated the capability from a by-product to an intentional design feature. Their argument for doing this? That as phone system designs were improving, that side-effect was going away and by god, it’s their right to be able to do that.

The internet, however, had no such side-effect in the original design. In the twisted view of the cops, this is the same as them being stripped of power.

So yes, law enforcement isn’t keeping up. And that’s not a bad thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

There’s another factor: the Internet also has more attackers. When people do commerce via the phone system, they don’t expect the phone call to be intercepted and used to defraud them. On the Internet, people don’t have that perception of safety.

That led to calls for encryption. With every highly-publicized attack, there are more calls for encryption; for instance, Firesheep (an attack where someone sitting next to you on a coffee shop could steal your Facebook identity) led to Facebook moving to TLS.

Normal people aren’t afraid of cops; they are afraid of “hackers”. But there’s no way to distinguish “hackers” from cops, so the protocol designers end up protecting the user from both.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Normal people aren’t afraid of cops”

Hey, I’m normal? Woohoo! In yo face, mofos. Ha! Er, sorry. 😐

They aren’t? I know very few “normal people” then.

Since reading TD, I’m beginning to watch the topic a lot more closely, but no they aren’t. At least, not around here. I’m in Western Canada, far away from OPP and QPP. There were some pretty wierd (to me) stories that came out of the G8 thingy a few years ago which seemed utterly foreign to me. That sort of thing seldom (if ever) happens out here. There was one apparently crazy guy who was running around in the woods with a rifle and the RCMP essentially hunted him down and killed him. There was another guy, a veteran with PTSD who was essentially murdered by the RCMP (on his knees, unarmed, shot in the back), which is still winding its way through the courts. By and large though, it’s pretty boring here compared to what I read of US cops. Here, they don’t draw down on traffic stops, but we’re generally not packing heat like you guys are.

However, I’m caucasian and generally treat cops politely and with respect. My native friends have a lot more trouble with cops than I ever have, but my caucasian “low-life” acquaintances do too. I think it’s a “class issue” as with everything else it seems these days. All the “straights” appear to be terrified of all the homeless people, assuming they’re all crack heads or heroin/methadone addicts. It’s a very strange situation to see such polarization going on in my country.

Anonymous Coward says:

what these two are asking for is exactly what the USA entertainment industries want. there is absolutely no intention for child molestation in any way or form other than to use it as a way of trying to get what is wanted really and that is to remove anonymity and privacy, along with all types of freedom, just because these police officers cant do the job they signed up to do, PURE AND SIMPLE POLICE TIME!!

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Absolute Anonymity

Absolute anonymity leads to absolute anarchy.

Where is anyone talking about “absolute anonymity”? We are talking about anonymous communication here, not absolute anonymity. You don’t really believe that everyone who uses a pseudonym online doesn’t pay taxes or doesn’t register to vote or doesn’t hold a drivers license, do you?

Anonymous communication has always been around from mailing an unsigned, unaddressed letter to the editor of the local paper to posting flyers to hiring someone to be your mouthpiece to scribbling archaic messages on bathroom walls.

Why is it all of sudden different because it’s on the internet?

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Absolute Anonymity

Absolute anonymity leads to absolute anarchy.

How so? Please explain. Enlighten us.

Consider this conversation. I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. We’re essentially anonymous to each other. We have no guarantee that either of us is even using our real names. Are you suggesting that you should have to forward a dossier regarding your past history which I can verify via other sources, and vice versa, before we can have a meaningful conversation in an ostensibly free society? If so, what are you doing here now?

I say that because of past actions taken by restrictive regimes and other actors, anonymity is a priceless feature and a proven necessity.

How is it you equate it to an obvious threat?

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

A man can dream -

weird it posted before I was ready 🙂
take 2

it like a digital fingerprint that identifies it to you sitting behind the computer or something at that time. … In that way I can make a digital qualification that that’s the person that I’m talking to. If I had one choice, that’s what I would ask for.

Indeed, a man can dream for that. Because what criminal wouldn’t LOVE to be able to know with confidence that the 12 year old he’s talking to online is actually Sgt. Smith.

Anonymous Coward says:

re: Absolute Anonymity

This is false.

Absolute anonymity does not exist.

However, there has always been the possibility to write in code, circulate anonymous (unsigned) chain letters and communicate without authenticating oneself.

Technology only increases the cost for the government and prevents fishing expeditions.

What the government wants is that technology should have builtin data retention and authentication only to make police investigations easier.

STJ says:

Wasn’t this said about the car as well, back in the day? Cars are moving so fast, we can’t stop robbers. If everyone got a driver’s license, then we would know who the car belongs to and not have to worry about them getting away. It’s a good thing people don’t know how to switch cars.

Same thing, people can’t steal other people’s internet licenses. Would this include any type of data transmitted? You pay with a CC for your Jolt drink, you data gets transmitted, do you need to show ID? Every time you pick up your IP phone, do you need to swipe? Calling to pay your cable bill? That information is transmitted over the internet from company 1 to company 2. Do you have to give your information for that?

I’m willing to be most of these answers would be, let someone else smarter them me figure them out. I will complain again when it’s convenient.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: I have no problem applying for his "Internet Users License"...

Personally, I’d like to have been given a lot more say in whether he got the job of telling me what ought to be expected of me. I wasn’t even asked, have never heard of him, and am really wondering about his qualifications and related experience. Why’s he even get a say in this, considering he appears to be pretty much ignorant of the issues?

Rich Kulawiec (profile) says:

When the gods want to punish us...

“In that way I can make a digital qualification that that’s the person that I’m talking to.”

My, what a capital idea. Let’s put aside legal, social, economic, political, ethical, technical and other considerations and grant your wish. poof! It’s done. There you go.

Now…you do realize that this applies to everyone, right? Including politicians, students, the Four Horseman of the Infocalypse, athletes, lawyers, celebrities, hookers, celebrity hookers, spies, construction workers, movie stars…EVERYONE. Including the police. Including you.

Welcome to the future you dreamed about. Do enjoy your stay.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: When the gods want to punish us...

As I posted above, expecting the police, politicians, and anyone else ‘important enough’ to have to follow the same rules as the regular citizens is foolhardy, as you can bet they will have ‘officer/political official safety’ exceptions in place before the ink is even dry, if they’re not there from the very beginning.

Gracey (profile) says:

Why do they even think an internet license would stop bullying, or stop internet child abuse? It won’t. No more than a driving license stops speeders, or drunk drivers, or people driving without a license.


If such a thing were ever passed, I could easily predict a lot Canadians buying fake documents to use a fake name to get an internet license.

Just what we needed. More crap removing privacy that Canadian citizens are supposed to be entitled to.

Pretty soon, I’ll need a license to walk down the street because they don’t know who I am.


GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Pretty soon, I’ll need a license to walk down the street because they don’t know who I am.”

Nah. That’s what all the facial recognition hardware mounted on every third telephone pole and every second building is for.

They can tell who you are, where you came from and where you went, every day, anywhere, on any street, in any town…. soon.

Of course, there will soon be a booming semi-secret underground “masquerade” business in North America as well, which will offer a new “face” for casual travel, business meetings, drug buys, etc.. 🙂

But you have it right. This will in no way stop or even hinder any kind of criminal activity on the web, and will have zero impact on “mankind’s” favourite entertainment – child porn – as this is primarily a crime that caters to the wealthy and thus, is untouchable by law.

You might have noticed that every “Child Porn Ring” that ever gets reported, quickly begins to show the names of VIPs, judges, politicians, CEOs, ministers, and the like, and then, just as quickly, all investigation ends. The only child porn busts that get any real effort are those that deal with single individuals who are very seldom actually selling the stuff, but collecting it instead.

I figure this “license” crap is just another way to let businesses and government know exactly who to send the bill to for all the “mistakes” people will soon be making on the soon to be “gardened” internet.

Its always about the money.

Anonymous Coward says:

Just remember the OPP is not Canada’s nation Police Force, they are just a group of THUGS. Private police forces do not work and never have. Most of the police in these forces could not cut it to get into the RCMP so we as Canadians take them to be THUGS.

Yes the RCMP are screwed up but that is from not taking the best person for the job, but filling quota’s.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You got a problem with provinces who have their own police force. We have the SQ here, who would never contemplate such an idiotic thought. Maybe because our cops have to take college for 3 years before even having the right to step into Academia, where if they fail they just join ranks with what really bothers me, private security, they’re everywhere now, even fuckin’ supermarkets. Yeah, I went to this supermarket I never go to usually because I was in the area driving and got some cat food and I see this huge brute with a black uniform saying SECURITÉ in the back, I’m like ok this is fucked up, regular employees are able to get robbers, I worked in a supermarket for 7 years at the same time as I went to high school/university and we would have never needed such an employee that just by his uniform might make some people leave.

But yeah, the OPP can do whatever they want to Ontarians, they’ve proven to be retarded like voting against their own interests (conservative in southern ontario, what?) for almost 10 years now, although they have the opposite kind of politicians *supposedly at the provincial level since forever, they’re a big reason why Harper is in. Alberta and Saskatchewan (Harper’s base wouldn’t be enough to get them in as a majority government.

There’s a third province who have their own provincial police but I forget which, probably my friendly neighbours the newfs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Driver's License is a flawed analogy

Yes, that’s where they want to go eventually, but a Driver’s License only proves that the user has the legal privilege to drive a car.

It doesn’t require the owner to install an expensive tracking system or to log every route taken by the car, or to ID every previous user and have the data available for law enforcement.

So I’ll argue that a Driver’s License is still too mild and probably intentionally deceptive analogy.

A Driver’s License for internet use would not merely be a piece of paper, but would have to be supplemented by copyright troll liability for any account holder whom would be presumed responsible if he can’t or won’t ID the actual user.

This goes even farther than regulation of vehicles, where the only legal consequence of lending out to the wrong person is that you get the fine, or (depending on jurisdiction) are presumed responsible for trafick violations unless you can identify the actual driver.

Anonymous Coward says:

A brighter future for us all!

I think what the police really need is for criminals to be licensed, maybe even unionized.

I’d feel much safer being violently held up by someone from Local Muggers #202. I know that they’ll have received consistent and skilled training in threatening, weapon brandishing and roughing up. I’ll also feel good knowing that the contents of my wallet will go towards benefits like pensions for retired pick pockets, and health insurance for purse snatchers when they get tennis elbow from all of that run-by grabbing.

Most important of all, the police will know exactly who to visit and interrogate. They will be able to check the directory of suspects, sure of which criminals are working in each district to assist in their investigations.

Dismembered3po (profile) says:

Why stop at THE INTERNET?

At this point in the Internet’s history, requiring a license to use it is not AT ALL analogous to any of those things he invokes analogy to.

Cars can and do literally kill people.

Mortgages allow you to become indebted to someone else for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

For these reasons it makes PERFECT SENSE to require identity information.

Speech is neither of those. Hence, in real life, our countries protect our right to say whatever we damned well please.

What these people want is for you to have to get a license to SPEAK.

There is precisely ZERO difference in this regard between ON THE INTERNET and IN REAL LIFE.

Let’s just go ahead and require a license for the following:

Using the telephone
Researching your health
Participating in politics
Getting healthcare advice
Communicating with support groups
Speaking to people
Going shopping
Stating your opinions
Being in public spaces
Managing your finances
Participating in civil society groups

There is no line here.

Anonymous Coward says:

or to re-title it “Senator Tom McInnis believes people should have to APPLY to have free speech, and he should be the guy who decided if they get it”…..

if this passes…sheesh!

Newsflash 2016: Senator McInnis (Now the richest Senator on Earth) proposes a ‘sex license’ (guess who gets to run you through your driving test?)…..

what the hell has McInnis got to hide that he wants the ability to (sans trial) remove peoples internet access whenever he likes?

Anonymous Coward says:

So when the Canadians are required to have an internet license all other countries will too? Right. /s

Here’s an eyeopener for McInnis, the internet is global. When citizens of Canada find this at their doorstep and don’t want to be IDed, guess what they will do? The same thing others would do and get something to mask the IP. At that point, McInnis will be right back where he started, unable to ID who it was said something bad to little Johnny.

McInnis needs a couple of them holes in his head plugged, his brains have already run out of them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Driver's License is a flawed analogy

it’s the wrong tool for the job. This is what Senator McInnis and Inspector Naylor don’t understand. 

Or they fully understand it’s the wrong tool but invoke it because it piggybacks on an emotional argument most are unlikely to contest.

Of course, no one can be physically hurt by an unlicensed internet user, but be very careful with that argument because it ceeds the moral ground to the opposing party whom might be willing to prove a negative.

Anonymous internet use should be a human right, even if there are situations real or imagined, where the anonymity may hinder law enforcement and prvent the effective investigation of the worst crimes.

It’s simply the price for liberty a free society must accept.

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

If all anonymity were eliminated, and everybody on the Internet can always know who is speaking, then I expect that Internet bullying will be replaced with real-life bullying: any unpopular opinion I might express (like being pro-life, pro-choice, pro-feminism, pro-racism, pro-LGBT, pro-Obama, pro-welfare, pro-religion, pro-cello-music, pro-teaching-children-about-sex…) or any argument I might get into (let’s say for instance I was in a multiplayer game and *gasp* MADE A MISTAKE…) has a significant chance of resulting in pissed-off people showing up on my doorstep with violence in their hearts and the hardware to express it.

Of course, if it’s only the police that have access to this information, then only the police will show up at my doorstep with violence in their hearts and the hardware to express it, the latter thoughtfully provided by the U.S. Government by way of the military. Only the police, that is, or their friends. Or hackers, because we know what happens to massive databases and backdoors only the police have access to. Or friends of the hackers. Or anybody the hackers decide to release the information to. So… pretty much anybody.

Sortinghat (profile) says:

All someone has to do is just use a public Wi Fi spot or go to the library and use their computer. Those are just the tip of the iceberg to get around this insane law.

These bankers live in a dream bubble and can’t see reality outside of it. Same with the socialist left who live in their posh apartments and assume everything is fine because the big cities get all the best stuff.

In rural areas and towns there are food shortages and shortages of things in general with shelves being half empty really fast and you literally have to go on stocking day when the truck comes in to get first.

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