Technology, Thoughts & Trinkets

Touring the digital through type

Tag: sovereignty

Canadian Sovereignty Online – one year later

internet down :(  Last year a group of academics, technologists, and members of the public sent a public letter (.pdf) to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and Canadian Parliament. The letter raised concerns in light of the US government’s unilateral pre-trial domain seizures. Specifically, we asked that these institutions develop a plan by December 31, 2011 that would ensure that Canadians would retain a right to self-determination when it comes to digital policy; we wanted these bodies to plan how to limit the harms generated by US domain seizures of web properties.

To date we have not formally heard from any of these institutions. Unfortunately, domain seizures and US digital imperialism has gotten worse, not better, in the interim. In response, a group of us associated with Digital Policy Canada have prepared another public letter for CIRA’s Canadian Internet Forum. It is titled, “Canadian Sovereignty Online – one year later,” (.pdf) and in the letter we argue that Canadian domains could be seized by the American government on copyright infringement grounds, even if a Canadian were legally (under Canadian law) making content available.

To achieve digital autonomy – and thus defend Canada’s sovereign rights – we believe that CIRA should embark not only on policy development, but also technical development of tools that can protect Canadian interests when they are challenged. We also believe that CIRA should invest in educational processes to raise awareness about the threats and challenges facing the contemporary Internet and DNS ecosystem. Such a three-pronged effort would entrench and support national self-determination surrounding sovereign digital policy actions, while also educating Canadians about digital sovereignty. In aggregate, these efforts will serve to protect Canada’s long-term cultural, economic, and political interests, and we maintain that the means of doing so are within CIRA’s organizational mandate.

Click here to download a full copy of the public letter (.pdf)

Decrypting Blackberry Security, Decentralizing the Future

Photo credit: HonouCountries around the globe have been threatening Research in Motion (RIM) for months now, publicly stating that they would ban BlackBerry services if RIM refuses to provide decryption keys to various governments. The tech press has generally focused on ‘governments just don’t get how encryption works’ rather than ‘this is how BlackBerry security works, and how government demands affect consumers and businesses alike.’ This post is an effort to more completely respond to the second focus in something approximating comprehensive detail.

I begin by writing openly and (hopefully!) clearly about the nature and deficiencies of BlackBerry security and RIM’s rhetoric around consumer security in particular. After sketching how the BlackBerry ecosystem secures communications data, I pivot to identify many of the countries demanding greater access to BlackBerry-linked data communications. Finally, I suggest RIM might overcome these kinds of governmental demands by transitioning from a 20th to 21st century information company. The BlackBerry server infrastructure, combined with the vertical integration of the rest of their product lines, limits RIM to being a ‘places’ company. I suggest that shifting to a 21st century ‘spaces’ company might limit RIM’s exposure to presently ‘enjoyed’ governmental excesses by forcing governments to rearticulate notions of sovereignty in the face of networked governance.

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