The Role of Digital Surveillance in Stopping the Past’s Rebirth

Vader Sings!Most of the music that I listen to clearly borrows from the past, takes technologies of the present, and creates the music of the future again. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that the electronic beats that I listen to are going to be what everyone listens to, or that Bossa Nova and Samba are going to be predominant music genre in your home (though they should *grin*). No, what I’m saying is that digital technologies facilitate the appropriation of past cultural artifacts that were produced for consumption, and then subsequently modify and make them the artist’s own. Take a look at the below YouTube video for a demonstration of taking up a past cultural artifact (part of an episode from the West Wing) and modifying it to make a contemporary political statement:

Taking the past and making it one’s own isn’t anything new; artists have been reinterpreting prior songs/artwork/performances and making a buck off their reinterpretation for a long, long time. What is new is:

Continue reading

Demonstration: Another Awesome Mashup + Constituent Part

200903292246.jpgFollowing up on my post two weeks ago (Demonstration: Why Mashups are Awesome), I felt obliged to put up another awesome mashup that I just came across. The first video below shows guy playing a trombone piece, whereas the second demonstrates how it was integrated into a reggae mashup. Depending on the copyright regime that you live in, the mere act of viewing a mashup like the one in this post could constitute infringement. The audio mashup linked in the image at the head of this post most definitely would constitute infringement in some jurisdictions, but in both cases aren’t citizens just taking up the cultural artifacts surrounding around them and making something new? Amateur creativity like in these mashups is categorically different from professional mashups; shouldn’t we really have different categories and legal expectations depending on what category you sit in?

Trombone Set


Continue reading

Three-Strikes to Banish Europeans and Americans from the ‘net?

200903281552.jpgThroughout the Global North there are discussions on the table for introducing what are called ‘three-strikes’ rules that are designed to cut or, or hinder, people’s access to the Internet should they be caught infringing on copyright. In the EU, the big content cartel is trying to get ISPs to inspect consumer data flows and, when copywritten content is identified, ‘punish’ the individual in some fashion. Fortunately, it is looking that at least the EU Parliament is against imposing such rules on the basis that disconnecting individuals from the Internet would infringe on EU citizens’ basic rights. In an era where we are increasingly digitizing our records and basic communications infrastructure, it’s delightful to see a body in a major world power recognize the incredibly detrimental and over-reactionary behavior that the copyright cartel is calling for. Copyright infringement does not trump basic civil liberties.

Now, I expect that many readers would say something along this line: I don’t live in the EU, and the EU Parliament has incredibly limited powers. Who cares, this: (a) doesn’t affect me; (b) is unlikely to have a real impact on EU policy.

Continue reading

Note: EDLs in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia?

200903230015.jpgThere is a fairly confusing article on EDLs that was published by the Times & Transcript’s Alan Cochrane. It’s absolutely rife with inaccuracies about the technologies about EDLs, which contributes to the rampant misinformation about these identification pieces. Before I get to that, I want to note pieces of information that look interesting, though their accuracy has to be taken as questionable given the sloppy work done throughout the article.

Of interest:

  1. Apparently the New Brunswick government’s support of EDLs has ‘waned’ after receiving some report or another. While the reporter doesn’t mention the report by name, I have a suspicion that it’s the report commissioned by the Atlantic registrars of motor vehicles that was referenced in the May 9, 2008 press release of the Council of Atlantic Premiers. That report has not been disclosed to the public. (I lack anything that would substantiate or disprove the claim that New Brunswick’s interest has waned; I also don’t know what the report stated and so can’t know if it would influence the government’s position.)
  2. Service Nova Scotia has stated that the province is looking into EDLs, but as of yet does not have a deployment timeline. (I lack information that would substantiate or disprove this claim.)
  3. Manitoba is taking applications for EDLs right now, and will begin shipping them in 2 weeks. (This definitely seems on the money, and we can presume that it is accurate.)
  4. Continue reading

Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner, and DRM

200903201224.jpgIn his recent discussion with Ann Cauvoukian, Jesse Brown seems to have touched on a nerve. In the interview, the Commissioner discusses the use of self-encrypting/decrypting security systems that are meant to meet her ‘PET Plus’ program; she wants to ensure that measures are embedded in surveillance technologies that secure individuals’ privacy while at the same time enabling police to perform their duties. In the case of cameras, this will mean that all bodies on the screen are barely visible – not blurred, but almost erased from a non-decrypted viewing. Individuals are only revealed on film when a decryption algorithm is applied; until then, those individuals hold a spectre-like existence.

Russell McOrmond has taken a strong stance against this, arguing that the Commissioner’s efforts would make first-party/content owners subservient to third party agents who hold decryption keys. It is important to note that, as the Commissioner has presented her ideas, the police, or some other authority, would be the only group who would have access to these keys. This would limit the use of CCTV by employees to illegitimately survey clients/patrons/etc. Surprisingly quickly, Ken Anderson (Assistant Commissioner, Privacy, Ontario) has jumped into the discussion.

Continue reading

Update: More on Quebec EDLs

200903191537.jpgQuebec formally announced that EDLs will be available for Quebecers on Monday, with Jean Charest using a relatively bogus financial argument to support EDLs.* Says he:

“If there are five people, five kids and two parents, if they had to all pay for a passport it would be an expensive requirements for them to come here” (Source)

Not withstanding Charest’s poor math (I count seven people in his ‘equation’), the costs that he is referencing are for the people coming to Quebec, not the costs of Quebecer’s traveling to the US. Were he really concerned about costs, he could adopt the line that the OPC and IPC (Ontario) have been pushing: Canadian’s should have their passport’s subsidized, and the lifetime of these documents extended. Were he honestly concerned about the privacy concerns, he would be pushing passports, not EDLs. Fortunately, of course, Charest is a stanch ‘supporter’ of privacy:

“[Privacy is a serious issue. We believe we need to do what has to be done to protect the privacy of individuals” (Source)

Continue reading