Why bill C-30 will never work.

Saturday, February 18 2012 @ 09:52 MST

Contributed by: evilscientist

There is, rightly, much ado about the internet spying bill C-30 that is currently before the house. A bill so poorly written that the Harper Conservatives have sent it to committee for amendments before it has even reached second reading. There are several moral reasons why the inappropriately named "Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act". I say inappropriately named act due to the fact that CSIS has no jurisdiction in dealing with child pornography, but this act allows CSIS the same access as the police. That goes to the bill's deeper purpose, allowing the Harper government to spy on Canadians. However the bill in its current form will never work. Not because of any legal or moral implications or barriers, but solely due to the technical issues of implementation. Any cursory review of the text of the bill show that the people who wrote it have no clue as to how the technology involved works or its limitations.

First the bill basically requires all ISP's to record all data that flows over their networks. Though I haven't seen the stats on the volume of data it is probably safe to assume that it's over the terabyte per day range per ISP. That means the volume of info that has to be stored is 250x the amount of information stored on your average DVD, per day. It won't take long for that amount of information to fill and occupy a large amount of physical space. That physical space will need to be paid for somehow and we all will do that through higher internet bills. This, by the way, is the reason the ISP's are opposing the legislation. It will cost them millions of dollars to implement just the recording provisions, not to mention attempting to safeguard that data from access by criminal elements.

So the expense of storing the information is high, the information can be made useless by the people sending it by the simple expedient of encrypting the data. Modern encryption methods available for free to all of us can lock data up so securely it would take the NSA months/years to crack it. That creates a great expense for the people who want to look at the information as they will need to purchase large amounts of computing power to brute force an attack on the data. If we all start using this encryption it will become next to impossible for the Harper government to afford to crack the data. Once encrypted there's no way of knowing if the information being exchanged is child pornography or Aunt Milly's jam recipes meaning most of it will need to be cracked.

So not only is the internet spying bill a violation of Canadian's privacy rights (section 34 of the bill allows anyone appointed by the Minister to view your private communication), but it will cost the taxpayer millions of dollars for the necessary computing facilities to attempt to break through the current level of cryptography available to the public, not to mention the millions added to internet bills for the storage and security needed for all that data.

In short this is either a very poorly written law or more likely a very thinly veiled attempt by the Harper Conservatives to spy on anyone they see as ideologically impure. Unfortunately with his slight majority Harper will be able to ram this through like he has with all his other poorly conceived and ill-advised legislation. Don't expect many changes in committee.

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