Canadian Chamber Of Commerce Wants To Legalize Spyware Rootkits To Help Stop 'Illegal' Activity

from the this-is-a-bad-idea dept

As a whole bunch of folks have been sending in, up in Canada, as part of a discussion on anti-spam laws, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is proposing a very troubling idea: allowing rootkit spyware to be installed surreptitiously for the purpose of stopping illegal activity. As Geist notes, the last time this battle was fought, it was fresh on the heels of the Sony rootkit debacle, so there wasn't much support for these concepts. But, with a few years distance, the industry groups are trying again. Specifically they either want to remove language that prevents the surreptitious installation of spyware -- or they want specific exemptions. For example, in the case of the following, they argue spyware should be allowed:
a program that is installed by or on behalf of a person to prevent, detect, investigate, or terminate activities that the person reasonably believes (i) present a risk or threatens the security, privacy, or unauthorized or fraudulent use, of a computer system, telecommunications facility, or network, or (ii) involves the contravention of any law of Canada, of a province or municipality of Canada or of a foreign state;
Basically, as long as you claim that you're going after someone for breaking the law, surreptitious installs are allowed. Geist points out the obvious: copyright holders will salivate over this.
This provision would effectively legalize spyware in Canada on behalf of these industry groups. The potential scope of coverage is breathtaking: a software program secretly installed by an entertainment software company designed to detect or investigate alleged copyright infringement would be covered by this exception. This exception could potentially cover programs designed to block access to certain websites (preventing the contravention of a law as would have been the case with SOPA), attempts to access wireless networks without authorization, or even keylogger programs tracking unsuspecting users (detection and investigation). Ensuring compliance with the law is important, but envisioning private enforcement through spyware without the involvement of courts, lawful authorities, and due process should be a non-starter.
If this works in Canada, expect to see similar provisions start popping up elsewhere around the world in short order.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    Bob Jonkman (profile), 7 Feb 2013 @ 11:18am

    Competing rootkits

    Of course, removing rootkits is already illegal in Canada. All the rootkit authors need to do is declare that the rootkit is a Technological Protection Measure for their content, and it is automatically protected by the recently enacted copyright legislation (formerly Bill C-11).

    There will need to be a central registry of rootkits and citizens whose computers have been rooted. Canada has lots of experience in that field, e.g. the gun registry.

    Rootkits will need to be designed carefully to avoid collisions between competing rootkits. We'll need an industry rootkit consortium, and a rootkit standards body.

    If the law allows for only one rootkit on one PC then the government can initiate an auction to determine which "interested party" gets to put their rootkit on which PCs. This could be a revenue generator for the government.

    Of course, there will be a new federal department, Rootkits Canada. Think of the civil service employment opportunities!

    We can have rootkit lobbyists. Politicians can run on the Rootkit Platform. They can join Rootkit Party of Canada (who will probably be in opposition to the Pirate Party of Canada).

    Exciting times ahead...


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.