Big content wants spyware powers

In its continuing attempt to save its failing business model, it appears that Big Content wants everyone to install spyware on their computer to warn the studies if they are pirates.

The move was revealed in a submission made by a number of corporate organisations in the Canadian anti-spam initiative.

According to Freezenet, the groups are demanding that certain kinds of spyware should be exempt from provisions of the anti-spam law. Those are the sorts of spyware which could be used for the purposes of anti-piracy operations on the personal device level.

While the initiative to stop spam was largely seen as a positive Canadian technology and law story, Big Content’s move has cast a shadow over the whole thing.

The submission signed by the Coalition of Business and Technology Associations which includes the Canadian Bankers Association, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, Entertainment Software Association of Canada and the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada appears to open the door to allow spyware to installed on a PC for the purposes of blocking websites that major industry types do not approve.

The detail of the law says that the spyware should be acceptable if it is there to prevent, detect, investigate, or terminate activities that the person reasonably believes present a risk or threatens the security, privacy, or unauthorised or fraudulent use, of a computer system, telecommunications facility, or network, or involves the contravention of any law of Canada, of a province or municipality of Canada or of a foreign state.

With wording like that it would be perfectly legal for Big Content to hack into your computer and install Malware which prevents you visiting pirate bay, tells Big Content that you are downloading software, and sends all your key strokes to their legal division.

What is also questionable is who decides what is legal in Canada. The way this is written, the person doing the interpretation would be Big Content and no court order would be needed.

Freezenet claims that it could also be used by a manufacturer to block access to a site that it does not want its customers to visit.

The situation would have made Sony legally safe when it had its rootkit scandal of 2005 because such an exception would legalise such software.

There is a lot that could stop such a law going through. As it is written it might violate PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) because an IP address has been interpreted as personal information.