Posted on by Scott Delahunt

Huge gap since the last time I posted. I’ll try to round up by subject.

Bill C-30
Here’s the reason for the gap. The news kept moving faster than I could cover. In the space of a week, lots has happened.

As attention focused on Bill C-30, aka the online surveillance act, Section 34 has been the major issue with the legislation. Section 34 requires ISP to turn over customer information – name, address, phone number, email address, and IP address – over to law enforcement when requested, no warrant needed. As I’ve pointed out before, this is in contravention of Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Public Safety Minister Vic Towes has requested a probe into the Vikileaks30 Twitter account. Althought the information posted by Vikileaks30 was in the public domain via court records, Toews wants to find out who is behind the privacy breach. Toews has also stepped back from accusing people protesting against C-30 as “siding with child pornographers”, though the wording is very weasely. John Baird, the Foreign Affairs Minister, has accused the NDP of being behind the identity with no proof.

Also, Toews, on seeing the backlash build, has tried backtracking. Part of his march backwards included saying he didn’t know what was in the buill he himself introduced. The opposition NDP has jumped on the minister’s lack of knowledge of the bill’s contents. Both the Opposition and the Privacy Commissioner want to see the bill scrapped.

The cost of implementing the hardware and software to enforce C-30, if enacted, as been estimated at Cdn$80 million. ISPs don’t want to foot the bill for spying on Canadians, nor do their customers.

Anonymous has gotten involved in the protest and has released a video. The group has threatened to release even more info on not just Toews but any MP that supports the bill or accuses anyone of siding with the child pornographers.  The goal is to get the bill withdrawn and scrapped.  The hactivist group has also hacked the website for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), bringing the site down as part of the protest against C-30. The site was apparently chosen because police chiefs across Canada supported C-30, thinking the bill would help stop child predators.

Related to Bill C-30 is Bill C-11, the copyright bill. Another onerous section of C-30 allows the government to designate an agency as being law enforcement for the purposes of the bill. Coupled with C-11, this could let the movie and recording industries to spy unannounced for alleged piracy. Hearings for C-11 have opened, and changes are already being urged. So far, the only agreement is that Canada’s copyright laws need updating.

The identity of Vikileaks30 has been revealed. Bob Rae, interim Liberal leader, announced that Vikileaks was a Liberal research staffer. Rae has offered apologies to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. The staffer, Adam Carroll, has resigned.

What’s next? With the Harper Government being battered because of C-30 and over the allegations of robocalls and live calls telling Liberal and NDP supporters of fictional changes of voting locations, there’s a chance of proroguement, effectively killing all bills on the order paper. A cabinet shuffle mayt be in the works to move Toews out and possibly put Baird, Harper’s go-to pitbull, into Public Safety. No resignations yet – the majority is only by 11 seats – but pressure from Anonymous may foce Toews out of office completely.

Other Online Privacy
The Obama administration is calling for better privacy protection. Officials outlined a proposed “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights”, urging companies and consumer groups to jointly craft new protections.

WikiLeaks is ready to post emails from Stratfor. Stratfor has been working with the US Government in the investigation of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Research In Motion, and Hewlett-Packard have signed an agreement to provide greater privacy security to their users. The agreement also will be upheld by developers for the companies’ mobile platforms.

RIM released an update for the Playbook OS that included native email, calendar, and Android support. The free Playbook OS2.0 update filled in the missing support needed on the tablet to keep it competitive in the market.

Netflix has announced that it does not have any plans to support Blackberry devices. However, it is unknown if Netflix will port its Android app over to the Playbook, now that the tablet can run those programs.

Apple has enacted new policy about how apps use customers’ contact information. Apps must now get explicit user approval before accessing contact information stored on an iPhone or iPad.

FoxConn Technology, Apple’s largest supplier of iPhone and iPad parts, will be giving its employees a raise. The new agreement will see monthly wages go up to 1800 yuan, up from 900 yuan two years ago.

The next version of the Mac OS has been revealed. The new OS, called Mountain Lion, will bring in features from the iPad.

Phone Durability
Finnish magazine MikroPC tested 18 cell phones for durabuility in cold weather. Phones from Apple, Nokia, and Samsung were placed in a lab where the temperature was slowly lowered until the phone stopped working. The iPhone stopped working at -10 degrees Celcius/16 degrees Farenheit. An older, cheaper Nokia survived until -40 C/F.

Rogers Communications, one of the major telecomm companies in Canada, posted an 11% increase in profit for the fourth quarter of 2011. The profit came mainly from its wireless division. And people wonder why Canadians pay the highest in cellphone service fees.

The head of Twitter tells users to not use the service so much. Christopher Isaac Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, has been told by users that they’ve been logged in for 12 hours or more. Stone believes that such usage isn’t healthy. He’d prefer that users check the site frequently over sacrificing their lives to it.

Raspberry Pi
The $35 computer, Raspberry Pi, is ready for launch. Developed at Seneca College in Toronto, the computer has a custom version of Fedora pre-installed and is meant to be used as a test platform for children. If they break it, it’s not the family PC but something that can be easily replaced.

— Scott D

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