Posted on 29 February 2012.
Believers in online privacy be warned: According to the FBI’s and the US Department of Justice’s Communities Against Terrorism program’s “Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities Related to Internet Café” flyer, you may in fact be a terrorist if you are spotted doing any of the following activities inside or involving an Internet cafe:
- Traveling illogical distances to use an Internet café;
- Shielding your computer screen from the view of others;
- Signing into your residential account from a public location;
- Using anonymizers, portals or other means to shield your IP address;
- Using any form of encryption;
- Doing steganography – the practice of using software to hide encrypted data in digital photos or other forms of media;
- Gathering information or obtaining photos or maps of populated area;
- Making “suspicious communications” using VOIP or through a PC game;
- Having multiple mobile phones or switching SIM cards in your mobile phones;
- Paying in cash or using credit card in different names.
According to the flyer, anyone who sees someone doing any of the above suspicious activities in an Internet café should “gather information about individuals without drawing attention to yourself.” This includes:
- Identifying license plates;
- Getting a vehicle description;
- Noting any names used, languages spoken along with ethnicity.
However, the flyer does advise against collecting metadata, content or search electronic communications of such suspicious individuals or terrorists and not to do additional logging of online activity or further monitoring of communications because violating someone’s privacy should be left up to the experts at the FBI and the US Department of Justice to handle.
If you want to see a complete list of all FBI flyers regarding what activities in public could be considered suspicious and get you branded a terrorist, click here.
Posted in Articles
Posted on 15 February 2012.
Opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) may have won the day in the USA but north of the border, the same lobbying groups who supported SOPA are trying to ensure that similar provisions are included in Canada’s new Bill C-11. However, this has not gone unnoticed by both the mainstream media and the online media in Canada.
Specifically, Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law has written a lengthy post on his blog about how the music industry lobby, including the Entertainment Software Association of Canada plus the motion picture lobby, is lobbying hard for stringent provisions to be included in the bill. As a legal expert though, Geist does a good job of summarizing the following two key issues or problems that Canadian Internet users and entrepreneurs need to understand about Bill C-11:
- Digital Lock Provisions. Geist wrote that a number of organizations (see his complete list here) including businesses, the Retail Council of Canada, creator groups, consumer groups and education associations are arguing that these provisions are overly restrictive.
- The Enabler Provision. Geist also pointed out that rhose lobbying for Bill C-11 want SOPA-like liability clauses along with website blocking injunctions – a serious threat to perfectly legitimate websites.
Moreover, Geist has written that the music industry is seeking a huge overhaul of Bill C-32 – to make the bill tougher with any opponents being accused of standing with online piracy.
However and in a separate article for The Star, Geist also pointed out that while the lobbying groups have denied that websites like YouTube are their intended target, the ongoing litigation between YouTube’s owners (Google) and Viacom just south of the border shows how some provisions could just as easily be misused – creating an artic chill in both the Canadian technology and investment community. Geist then ended his article by noting that House Leader Peter Van Loan has recently indicated that the government hopes to pass Bill C-11 within the next two months.
In other words, expect the entertainment and music industry to step up their pressure campaign on Canadian politicians to turn Bill C-11 into a US style SOPA law that could have sweeping repercussions for Canadian web users.
Posted in News
Posted on 10 February 2012.
The Mega Upload case has dominated the news in recent weeks but the case along with that of Richard O’Dwyer, the UK student who founded TVShack, shows one clear trend that many internet users or entrepreneurs could find scary: You could be prosecuted under another country’s laws for violating their copyright laws and then extradited to that country to face the music.
For starters, the founders of file sharing website Mega Upload are not US citizens and do not reside in the USA. The company itself is incorporated in Hong Kong while its founders, German national Kim Dotcom along with two other Germans and a Dutchman, reside in New Zealand. Germany does not have an extradition treaty with the USA but apparently both the Netherlands and New Zealand do. Hence, all four can be extradited to face trial in the USA for violating US copyright laws.
Of course, the legality and morality of file sharing sites like Mega Upload is up for debate. Likewise, whether or not Mega Upload was founded with the intention of being a way for users to violate copyright laws by sharing media files will still need to be proven at a trial. Nevertheless, US authorities were effectively able to shut the website down and it appears that New Zealand officials are going to hand them over to US custody (they are all apparently NOT citizens of New Zealand).
In the case of Richard O’Dwyer, he merely set up TVShack (on non-American servers) which merely linked to other websites that contained copyrighted content – meaning many UK legal experts believe he did not violate UK law. Hence, he would likely be found innocent in a UK court – which is why the copyright owners want him extradited to the US.
However and on January 13, 2012, a UK District Judge ruled that O’Dwyer can be extradited to the US but he has the right to appeal if the order is upheld by the Secretary of State. The case has also led to renewed criticism of the 2003 US-UK Extradition Treaty.
Of course, these cases involved Internet entrepreneurs who’s businesses were, at best, in the gray area between legality and illegality. Nevertheless, be aware that its increasingly possible to run afoul of another country’s copyright laws – and then be extradited to that country to face the consequences.
Posted in Articles
Posted on 08 February 2012.
The Netherlands is cracking down on file-sharing by going after Internet service providers (ISPs) rather than individual offenders but the two largest ISPs in the country, KPN and T-Mobile, have said they won’t block The Pirate Bay.
Specifically, there is a new proposal that is due to be submitted to the Dutch Parliament by the middle of this year that makes it illegal for an ISP to provide access to any website or Internet service that helps to facilitate copyright infringement. Those ISPs that fail to comply with the proposed law could face penalties that range from €10,000 to €250,000 per day that would in turn be paid to BREIN – the Dutch anti-piracy consortium which represents entertainment companies.
It should be noted that back in January, a Dutch court ordered ISPs XS4ALL and Ziggo to block access to The Pirate Bay by February 1 and while Ziggo plans to comply (for the time being), the ISP has also indicated it intends to file an appeal. On the other hand, Silicon Republic and the TorrentFreak blog have noted that both KPN and T-Mobile are arguing that blocking websites is a threat to the open internet. Hence, they won’t be blocking subscriber access to these sites. KPN and T-Mobile have also suggested that the entertainment industry focuses on creating new business models instead.
Nevertheless, BREIN intends to also file complaints against ISPs UPC, KPN and T-Mobile who combined account for over 80% of the Dutch market. The intention of these legal actions is to drive Dutch Internet users and consumers to find and use legitimate sources of online content. On the other hand, Digital Trends has pointed out that last November, the Federation of the Phonographic Industry provided an estimate that 27% of Europeans are using file-sharing sites to download unlicensed content while other estimates place the figure as high as 40% for the Netherlands.
However and thus far, the Dutch court rulings and proposed laws do not criminalize an individuals’ use of file-sharing networks as any downloaded material is covered under a home-use exception but uploading copyrighted material onto file-sharing network is illegal.
Posted in News