Canadian Cyberbullying Bill Expands Scope, Targets Open WiFi Over Terrorism, Child Porn Fears

from the every-cyber-bill-a-Frankenstein's-monster dept

The drawn-out process in which a bill becomes a law lends itself to harmful things, like mission creep and bloating. Canada's new cyberbullying legislation, problematic in its "purest" form, is now becoming even worse as legislators have begun hanging language aimed at other issues (child porn, terrorism, cable theft [?]) on the bill's framework.

As was noted earlier, language aimed at punishing revenge porn had already been attached to the bill. But the urge to target as much as possible with a broadly written bill is too much for Canada's politicians to resist. Michael Geist notes that Bob Dechert (Secretary to the Minister of Justice) took a moment during the debate to speculate about the "dangers" of "stolen" cable.

With respect to the cable, I would like the member to consider if his cable were being tapped into by someone who was transmitting child pornography over the Internet, or if his home Wi-Fi was being tapped into by someone who was using it to cyberbully another child, he would want to know about that and he would want that to stop. The modernization of those provisions is simply to bring them up to date.

The amendments proposed on those long-standing offences of stealing cable are already in the Criminal Code in section 327. They simply update the telecommunication language to expand the conduct, to make it consistent with other offences…

However, I would like him to think about the potential for someone who is doing cyberbullying, transmitting child sexual images, or perhaps planning a terrorist act, doing it by tapping into some law-abiding citizen's cable or Wi-Fi Internet access.
The code Dechert refers to deals with theft of services. What Dechert is hoping to do is turn a targeted law into something that can be used to pursue vagaries. By throwing cyberbullying, child porn and terrorism into the mix, Dechert is hoping to limit opposition to this "update" of the language.

Geist doesn't think much of Dechert's statement.
In other words, Dechert is suggesting that accessing a neighbour's cable or wireless Internet access might somehow be linked to planning a terrorist attack, sending child pornography, or engaging in cyberbullying. I would happy to think about the potential for cable theft to play a role in terrorist plots. In fact, I think most would agree that there is no likelihood whatsoever and that the government should stop trying link provisions in their "cyberbullying bill" that have nothing to do with cyberbullying.
The odds, as Geist points out, are almost nonexistent. But very slim odds are a legislator's best friend. No one wants to be caught out by the unexpected, especially when they had a chance to head it off back when the bill was being written. So, a lot of "just in case" rhetoric is deployed, accompanied by fearful projections.

If this line of reasoning is allowed to proceed, Canadians could be looking at the possibility of legal penalties for running unsecured WiFi connections. It seems implausible, but this has been witnessed before. Back in 2010, a German court stated that those running open WiFi connections could be fined for not securing their networks (thus "enabling" illegal activity). Copyright maximalists have made the argument several times that an open WiFi connection is "negligent." When the realization sinks in that it's easier to target the listed subscriber rather than find out who exactly was performing criminal activities on an open WiFi connection, you can be sure that the solution will be routed along the path of least resistance: holding the subscriber responsible for the actions of others.

And, as Geist points out, the mission creep in this bill is astounding. What was meant to target cyberbullies has instead become a playground for legislators. A nearly non-existent threat is being used to beef up the penalties for cable theft, as though that part of the equation were the greatest deterrent to illegal activities. It's also concerning that the additional powers being granted to law enforcement outside of the cyberbullying scope were omitted from the government's official "introduction" to the bill (posted without the bill's text). This omission seems to indicate that the crowd-pleasing "cyberbullying" angle will allow legislators to copy-and-paste whole sections from a previously unsuccessful "lawful access" bill, itself defended with cries of "child pornography."



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Dec 4th, 2013 @ 12:39pm

    I got an idea

    We need to all get together and say that copyright is protecting/propagating cyberbullying, child porn and terrorism

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2013 @ 1:07pm

      Re: I got an idea

      Yes, and terrorists are using patents to help fund their evil terrorist plans!

      And child pornography is thriving thanks to copyright, lots of people are making big money off of child porn because of copyright!

      And the whole IP system is helping cyber bullies make money while cyber bullying others by filing frivolous lawsuits against them!

       

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  •  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Dec 4th, 2013 @ 12:47pm

    It's about time someone in the government finally started to take a stand against child porn. It's a very brave first step.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous, Dec 4th, 2013 @ 5:49pm

      Re:

      Throw people in prison over pictures. Capital idea! Just like some third-world dictatorship, oppressive Middle East regime, or Amerikkka.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2013 @ 12:50pm

    Absolutely lets make criminals out of people who don't know how to secure their wifi. A "brave first step" cant wait to see the following "measured" steps they will take.

     

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  •  
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    quawonk, Dec 4th, 2013 @ 2:50pm

    They only need an inch, they'll take a mile instead. "Here's a chance to get more power" and of course they leap at the opportunity.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Crazy Canuck, Dec 4th, 2013 @ 3:45pm

      Re:

      This is Canada we are talking about. You only need to give a centimetre and they'll take a kilometre instead!

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous, Dec 4th, 2013 @ 5:45pm

        Re: Re:

        England uses the metric system also, yet the Spice Girls song "Stop" contains the line, "You take an inch, I run a mile".

         

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2013 @ 3:09pm

    There is one problem with that..

    The current WiFi cracking methods completely destroy WiFi protection methods with ease.

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), Dec 4th, 2013 @ 4:03pm

      Re: There is one problem with that..

      That's a bit of an overstatement, but it's absolutely true that WPA2 protected access points can be broken using normal computers without as much trouble as people seem to think. If you can spend an hour or two monitoring the traffic, you can break the lock.

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2013 @ 4:27am

        Re: Re: There is one problem with that..

        That would be news to me. The strongest crack I know of is against WPS, but it is useless if you disable WPS on the access point. Other than that, WPA2-PSK-CCMP with a strong enough passphrase is still unbroken.

        The one which could be broken by "spending an hour or two monitoring the traffic" is WEP. WPS is broken by an active attack (spending an hour or two sending password guesses to the access point).

         

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          John Fenderson (profile), Dec 5th, 2013 @ 8:57am

          Re: Re: Re: There is one problem with that..

          The one which could be broken by "spending an hour or two monitoring the traffic" is WEP.


          WEP can be broken in a matter of minutes, not an hour or two.

          I'm talking about WPA2, and not key-guessing. The hitch is that you have to be catch the exchanges that happen when the connection to the AP is being set up. WPA2 is largely effective in protecting against drive-by hacks, but not effective against a more persistent hacker.

           

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2013 @ 3:48pm

    so if a lawyer defends a person charged with any of these crime he's guilty aswell?

     

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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Dec 4th, 2013 @ 5:07pm

    Talk about mission creep

    Christ on a unicycle. And here I thought all the stuff that was crammed into the ACA was outrageous. At least the stuff they put in ACA was vaguely related to healthcare. But in what sane universe is cyberbullying related to terrorism and cable theft?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2013 @ 8:31pm

    How big a burden would it be to secure your wireless connection? Seems like common sense. If you want to allow your neighbor to use it, share the password.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2013 @ 3:27am

    the whole aim is to continue to know exactly who is/was doing what, on the internet, at any particular time. in other words, carry on spying on everyone, just as was happening prior to the Snowden leaks, but now doing it 'legally' (and i use that term very loosely!) this is just another way to expand the governments ability to know everything about everyone, everywhere and then be able to exchange that information with whomsoever it wants. privacy and freedom being sent straight down the tube yet again, in favour of Police States!

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2013 @ 3:42am

    there isn't a single politician out there that wont use any and every opportunity to make a name for him/her self. it matters not in the slightest that what they are trying to do will instill less security for people, be beneficial in any way at all, as long as it gives that politician the headlines. then add in that under almost every scenario of this kind, there is a giant corporation handing out 'encouragement' to the politician because it is going to be vastly beneficial to it! now there reasons are clear and why there is almost no hope of any country not being ruled in the same way as those countries that have all been always criticized for the lack of concerns, lack of freedom, privacy and human rights, but exactly what supposed democratic free countries are turning into! and it's happening world wide, so what does that tell you? that there has been a giant meeting of heads of nations that have decided that the Fascist way is the right way and the people being looked after, being represented, being free is not in the best interests of governments and big business. when the public know what those people are up to, in their own interests and detrimental to the public, it has to stop!!

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2013 @ 5:31am

    I like how politicians attempt to stuff ten pounds into a one pound bag. If the name of the bill has a nice ring to it, like say ... save the children or such, then it is always fair game to include your totally unrelated bill whose sole purpose it to put money in the pockets of your slave masters - errr I mean benefactors.

     

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    Hector Salamanca (profile), Dec 5th, 2013 @ 9:51am

    Wow, I guess that means the end of free WiFi from hotels, coffee shops, libraries etc. Hell, even the government of the province of Saskatchewan has free open WiFi in the downtown area of some of the larger cities. So the provincial governments will now be breaking federal law. This could be fun!

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2013 @ 10:20am

    Open wifi, open source, encryption, anonymity, filesharing = threats.

    /sarcasm

     

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