Techdirt: Bill C-30 will open the door to cyber-crime
By Rich Kulawiec for Techdirt
There's proposed legislation in the US (sponsored by Lamar Smith) and in Canada (sponsored by Vic Toews) and in the UK that uses various flimsy justifications for the mass collection of data on telecommunications users. The data covered by these proposals varies, but includes things like URLs, phone calls, text/instant/email messages, and other forms of communication. Some of this proposed legislation deals with communication metadata, e.g., sender, recipient, time, etc.; some of it deals with communication content, e.g., the full text of messages.
I'm going to gloss over the specifics for two reasons: first, they've been covered exhaustively elsewhere, and second, I think it's an absolute certainty that whatever these proposals contain, the next ones will contain more.
The putative reasons given for these proposals are the usual Four Horseman of the Infocalypse: terrorists, pedophiles, drug dealers, and money launderers. One would think, given the hysteria being whipped up by the proponents of these bills, that one could hardly walk down the street without being offered raw heroin by a grenade-throwing child pornographer carrying currency from 19 different countries.
Of course, everyone who's actually studied terrorists, pedophiles, drug dealers and money launderers in the context of telecommunications knows full well that nothing in these bills will actually help deal with them. The very bad people who are seriously into these pursuits are not stupid, and they're not naive: they use firewalls, encryption, and tunneling. They use strong operating systems and robust application software. They use rigorous procedures guided by a strong sense of self-preservation and appropriate paranoia. They're not very likely to be caught by any of the measures in these bills because they'll (a) read the text and (b) evade the enumerated measures.
Yes, there are occasional exceptions: every now and then, a clueless newbie or a careless dilettante turns up when they're caught. And of course when that happens, there's always a press conference announcing the event, and many claims that it's a "major blow against crime" and a flood of self-congratulatory press releases. But it doesn't mean anything, except that someone was either stupid...or careless...or was set up.
The unpleasant reality that these bills are trying to avoid is that catching very bad people requires diligence, patience, expertise and intelligence, aka "competent police work." There's no substitute and there are no shortcuts. This means that these bills will achieve very few of their stated goals; that is, the benefit to society from them will be minimal, if any. Read more »
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