Home > CAIP, Copyright, Digital Policy, Facebook, Teksavvy, Voltage > Privacy on the Broadband Internet

Privacy on the Broadband Internet

David Ellis has an excellent and insightful post with respect to whether we are fighting the right battles when looking at the Teksavvy vs Voltage case.  Now I’m not going to comment on the Teksavvy case specifically, but I want to make some observations as to why online privacy should still be the main concern here going forward.

A few years ago, and several months after the US went after wikileaks financial assets, and domain hosting, I got an e-mail from a CEO of a CRM company in Sweden in response to an older blog I posted writing about the risks to businesses when throwing up business information on the cloud as a result of the wikileaks take down.  This particular CEO had grave concerns on what the use of cloud storage would mean for businesses going forward, if for instance a competitor had grievances with his company, or a government of a country where he stored that information had political motives, and filed to obtain access to sensitive business data.  How could this be opposed in international law? What about domestic law? What would be the economic impact of this on the business?

While Ellis debates the use of social media, the implications with companies not protecting your privacy amounts to serious security risks nationally and for the economy as a whole.  If the private sector and government for that matter, don’t take privacy seriously enough they won’t put in the necessary security safeguards on your personal information, or even critical network infrastructure to protect that information.

A good example of the private sector not taking privacy and security serious enough for us gamers is the Playstation Network hack a few years ago.  Sony was running a very old back end script to protect customers information.  That was hacked into very easily, the network was exposed as a result, and so was customers credit card information, names, addresses and so on.  Class action lawsuits have been filed as a result of them not taking privacy seriously enough. There are hundreds if not thousands of examples where companies lack on security because privacy of their customers isn’t a big deal for them.  Most recently our own HRDC had a security breach where thousands of Canadians found their addresses, social insurance numbers, credit card numbers being exposed to which consumers are the ones picking up the tabs on insurance.

Privacy is also paramount to network security.  How can anyone take a company seriously that has chosen not to step up for their legal responsibilities under privacy law even at a very basic level, as one that is safe and secure to do business with? Those that are in charge of our network security in this country such as ISPs should especially be the ones standing up to the plate.  The fact that they are not may send some serious concerns to our security officials in Ottawa.

I have family both here and in the US that are in the business of assessing such threats to the economy and government networks in large part because private companies and government itself are not stepping up to the plate and properly securing your information.  To protect the network, is to protect the information stored within it.  If businesses and government were to take privacy a lot more seriously, the security infrastructure would follow.  I could scare the living day lights out of each and every one of you on exactly what those threats entail, and there is a real economic cost to that lack in security. Security and privacy go hand in hand, it is impossible in IT terms to not have one without the other.

Consumers are comfortable when we use social media sites like Facebook.  A lot of that comfort comes with respect that we think we are allowing the sharing of information on the basis that we will be targeted by advertising. I agree to that, most do. Ellis as a parent, is concerned on how that information can be used outside of that. Maybe Ellis should seriously look at the stance he has taken on the issue, because turning our attention away from Ellis’s concerns as a parent with respect to social media in favor of the ISPs, might in fact enable substantive abuse, lack of security, personal and economic harm within not just our everyday lives, but in our ability to defend our interests in democracy, and ensure the safety and security of our own citizens and critical network infrastructure. You can’t have security in the private sector, when most are not abiding by our privacy laws and their responsibly under those laws.  I do agree with Ellis though, that a much broader discussion needs to occur outside of the Teksavvy vs Voltage case on the roles ISPs have just in a different light.

A possible question for policy makers and senior defense officials to ponder over; how safe is our network infrastructure from current and international threats, if we are getting signals from the telecom market that their responsibilities to their customers under privacy law at a basic level isn’t a priority?

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