A colleague of mine asked that I write a short post that summarizes the issue and my concerns with the Enhanced Drivers Licenses that Ontario is proposing to implement in the near future. Per his request, I’ll writing this.
Beginning July 1, 2009, the American government will require Canadians and Americans who enter the United States through its land borders to carry either a passport or an ‘enhanced’ identity document. The Ontario government, in response, is preparing to pass Bill 85 – Photo Card Act, which will see the government offer these identity documents to the Ontario public. These identity documents are required to contain a radio frequency identification chip that emits a unique number whenever it is within range of a reader, raising deep concerns surrounding mass surveillance of North American populations. Researchers have consistently proven that the anemic protections suggested by the government, such as placing the identity document in a radio-blocking sleeve, to be relatively ineffective in blocking the interception of the radio’s unique identifier. Further, advocacy groups have noted that it is relatively inexpensive to purchase a reader, raising concerns that non-government bodies and individuals can capture this unique identifier.
In the US, several ISPs (e.g. AT&T, Verizon, Comcast) have been testing the effectiveness of using Pando Networks’ own P2P client, which localizes transfered files, to increase the transfer speeds of files while reducing the flow of traffic between ISPs. These tests have demonstrated that Pando’s solution to P2P traffic ‘overwhelming’ network traffic has largely been successful; far less data is passing between ISPs, with a huge portion of the P2P traffic now being contained to the respective ISPs’ networks . DSLreports is concerned that, there may be hidden costs to the roll-out of these technologies. Perhaps individuals will need to pay a fee to enjoy the enhanced speeds. Perhaps this will correspond with a more invasive content analysis system. Maybe there will be blocks put on ‘non-authorized’ P2P clients.
Personally, I expect that P4P will be used to let ISPs compete in the media-content selling business. Imagine: you can get a movie from iTunes in 20 minutes, or in 2-4 from your ISP. Sure, the analysis and filtering that DSLreports notes could be coming, but I have a suspicion that P4p will be used to undermine the current content distributors first, and that other uses of P4P will follow only after that business model/technique is tested.
An administrative note: I’ve overhauled the general structure of my web space. I’m starting to use wordpress as a semi-content management system, and I’m actually pretty pleased with what I’m seeing now. If you find that something is broken, or just want to comment on if you love/hate the look, let me know.
The Canadian SIGINT Summaries includes downloadable copies, along with summary, publication, and original source information, of leaked CSE documents.
Parsons, Christopher; and Molnar, Adam. (2021). “Horizontal Accountability and Signals Intelligence: Lesson Drawing from Annual Electronic Surveillance Reports,” David Murakami Wood and David Lyon (Eds.), Big Data Surveillance and Security Intelligence: The Canadian Case.
Parsons, Christopher. (2015). “Stuck on the Agenda: Drawing lessons from the stagnation of ‘lawful access’ legislation in Canada,” Michael Geist (ed.), Law, Privacy and Surveillance in Canada in the Post-Snowden Era (Ottawa University Press).
Parsons, Christopher. (2015). “The Governance of Telecommunications Surveillance: How Opaque and Unaccountable Practices and Policies Threaten Canadians,” Telecom Transparency Project.
Parsons, Christopher. (2015). “Beyond the ATIP: New methods for interrogating state surveillance,” in Jamie Brownlee and Kevin Walby (Eds.), Access to Information and Social Justice (Arbeiter Ring Publishing).
Bennett, Colin; Parsons, Christopher; Molnar, Adam. (2014). “Forgetting and the right to be forgotten” in Serge Gutwirth et al. (Eds.), Reloading Data Protection: Multidisciplinary Insights and Contemporary Challenges.
Bennett, Colin, and Parsons, Christopher. (2013). “Privacy and Surveillance: The Multi-Disciplinary Literature on the Capture, Use, and Disclosure of Personal information in Cyberspace” in W. Dutton (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Internet Studies.
McPhail, Brenda; Parsons, Christopher; Ferenbok, Joseph; Smith, Karen; and Clement, Andrew. (2013). “Identifying Canadians at the Border: ePassports and the 9/11 legacy,” in Canadian Journal of Law and Society 27(3).
Parsons, Christopher; Savirimuthu, Joseph; Wipond, Rob; McArthur, Kevin. (2012). “ANPR: Code and Rhetorics of Compliance,” in European Journal of Law and Technology 3(3).