At first, what I thought the police were after was the ability to immediately get an IP address linked to a name linked to a time. They can get that information already now, but they have to get a warrant. But since the law doesn’t require ISPs to log people’s stuff, they don’t bother to. I figured the cops were just pissed because by the time they get the warrant the information is usually gone. So you make the ISPs log everything and not require a warrant to get names and IP numbers, which is what this bill does.
But I don’t think that’s the main reason. If the cops knew the name of a suspected terrorist or child molester, don’t you think they would get a warrant to search his house? No, the reason they want this law is because they don’t have names. This law would allow them to crawl through an ISP’s records looking for every IP that connected to a website they didn’t like. From there they would use the records to link the IPs to the names. Like a big dragnet.
But even that’s isn’t what this law is going to wind up getting used for. Bear with me. Kiddie porn sickos, terrorists, crime lords, etc… they aren’t stupid. They all know about Tor. They all know about PGP, which is how they encrypt their emails and USENET posts. Like banks, they use TLS to secure their websites. They use overseas hosting and darknets to store data. They use open and cracked wi-fi networks for untraceable Internet access. And even if you do catch them, they use full drive encryption to protect the evil contents from prying eyes. These are some of the reasons why these people are so hard to catch. In fact, catching these people over the Internet is basically impossible and I can’t believe the government and law enforcement wouldn’t know this. Even the stupidest pedophile knows to download all his shit at the Starbucks.
But a group of people who are easy pickings when you’re logging Internet traffic are file sharers and downloaders. Most P2P systems don’t (in fact, can’t) do anything to obscure IPs. And most people downloading the latest teeny bopper album aren’t computer savvy enough to protect themselves even if they could.
Let’s assume the cops don’t care about you downloading (I’m still not entirely convinced of this, but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt). They aren’t the ones you need to worry about. Right now, there are a group of people who know what is being downloaded and to what IP. Investigators for the Canadian Recording Industry Association constantly crawl around the P2P networks, looking at what IP is connected to what. P2P client software has to be able to know this. But all they have are IPs, no names, and no real way to get names. Until this new bill passes. I can’t believe that with all the big media lobbyists running around Parliament Hill these days that someone from outside government didn’t suggest such a bill because it makes a lot of lawyer’s lives easier.
I guarantee that if this law happens, the CRIA, RIAA, MPAA and all the rest of these assholes will begin their court challenges to be allowed use this information too (assuming the bill doesn’t allow this already, I haven’t finished reading it). Then the factory lawsuits will start. Remember, downloading is not illegal in Canada, but you can sue anyone for anything. Even worse, it would only take one more law to criminalize copyright in Canada and you can bet your bippy they are lobbying hard for that too. Then they can even have the police arrest you!
Why do I care so much about this? For starters, bored cops looking for pedophiles with too much information on their hands sometimes see crime where there isn’t any. It’s a problem in this country because child pornography law in Canada is overly broad and it makes no differentiation between real children and ‘fake’ children* (say, a 21 year old dressed as a schoolgirl). To say nothing of the fact that half the legitimate porno out there has the word ‘teen’ in the title, anyway. And the girls you get are like eighteen and nineteen, and more often than not, somewhere-in-my-twentiesteen. Bored cops looking at every file you download, scanning every site you visit, or inadvertently visit, has the potential to land a lot of people in jail who are not a threat to real children at all. If anything, it’s going to divert resources from finding real pedophiles.
Fortunately, judges are going to throw most of that out. Hopefully not too many people will have their reputations destroyed in the process. No, the real threat is that the cops, in their quest to catch Internet ‘bad guys’, have got themselves a bill that has the potential to be greatly abused by other interests to make the lives of millions of Canadians miserable. Because millions of Canadians like to download stuff. The law does little to address the problem of child pornography but has the potential to put a staggering amount of information in the hands of people who are who have an interest in using it against you. Does that sound like law which is in the public interest?
* The distinction between real and fake children is important. One would think the purpose of child pornography laws would be to protect real children from harm. But what about porno where no children were harmed, such as an animated work? Perverted to most, but last time I checked, you are free to be a sicko in Canada as long as you don’t bother anyone. Canada’s child pornography laws reject that idea. It is they only law I can think of in Canada that punishes thought-crime.