Are internet service providers keeping tabs on your browsing? | Toronto Star

Are internet service providers keeping tabs on your browsing?:

What does your internet service providers know about your internet browsing habits?

Christopher Parsons, from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab said the range in the responses to the Star’s questions may have to do with how each company defines the word “logging.”

“I suspect that some companies may be using terms differently,“ Parsons said.

As for how long an IP address would be associated with a customer’s account, Bell said that in January they began logging IP addresses for a year in order to comply with the Copyright Act that just came into force.

Rogers said the company doesn’t “maintain a list of past IP addresses for each customer, but in some cases we can manually retrieve them for a period of time (generally not further than a year back).”

Abramson , TekSavvy’s lawyer, said via email the company keeps a log of sessions for the previous 30 days.



Telecoms’ tight lips on customer data use leaves privacy watchdog in the dark

It is beyond disappointing that Canada’s telecoms have decided to treat Canadians’ personal information without even basic regards for Canadian privacy law (which includes being transparent, accountable, and open about how personal information is collected, retained, managed, and disclosed). What’s worse is that most Canadians seem bemused when officers of parliament, academics, reporters, and similarly interested groups try to learn this information, with many Canadians seemingly believing that the telecoms are (effectively) beyond the law and that it’s a fool’s errand to try and bring them into compliance.

Source: Telecoms’ tight lips on customer data use leaves privacy watchdog in the dark


From the editorial board at The Varsity, U of T’s student newspaper.


Case # 34644 Matthew David Spencer v. Her Majesty the Queen (December 9, 2013) At issue is Whether section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was violated. The appellant downloaded child pornography from the internet using a peer-to-peer file-sharing software program. The appellant stored child pornography in a shared folder and did not override the default settings that made the folder accessible to others. Since the files were accessible to other users they could therefore be downloaded. A police officer searched the shared folder and discovered the pornographic files. The officer couldn’t identify the owner of the folder but was able to determine that the IP address being used was assigned by Shaw Communications. The police wrote to Shaw and requested information identifying the assignee at the relevant time. Shaw Communications identified the user as the appellant’s sister. The police obtained a warrant and searched her residence, where they seized the appellant’s computer. The appellant was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography available.

An interesting case, especially when read against the scholarship that examines the Charter and PIPEDA implications of disclosing subscriber data absent a court order.


But an attempt by Canadian ISPs to garner an all-access pass that would let them secretly install software to monitor potentially illicit user activity was thwarted, at least in part.

According to the note accompanying the draft regulations, industry representatives “had argued for exemptions from the requirement for consent to install software to prevent unauthorized or fraudulent use of a service or system, or to update or upgrade systems on their networks.”

Under the revised rules, service providers would only be permitted to install software “where illegal activities pose a threat to [their] networks.”


American ISPs To Become Real Copyright Cops?

We live in a dangerous time when ISPs – largely to head off potential federal regulations – establish private arrangements with copyright holders to disrupt Internet subscribers from accessing certain content. Sandoval notes that,

Last July, Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable and other bandwidth providers announced that they had agreed to adopt policies designed to discourage customers from pirating music, movies and software over the Web. Since then, the ISPs have been very quiet about their antipiracy measures.

But during a panel discussion here at a gathering of U.S. publishers, Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, said most of the participating ISPs are on track to begin implementing the program by July 12.

[Subscribers] will also be informed of the risks they incur if they don’t stop pirating material. The ISP then can ratchet up the pressure. The ISPs can choose from a list of penalties or what the RIAA calls “mitigation measures” that include throttling down the customer’s connection speed to suspending Web access until the subscriber agrees to stop pirating. The ISPs can waive the mitigation measure if they choose.

This isn’t a small matter: rights holders regularly make errors when they assert that a person is engaging in infringing behaviour. Rights holders assume that taking ISP subscribers hostage – by throttling or otherwise impacting their online behaviours – will (a) cause subscribers to cease potentially infringing behaviour; (b) lead subscribers to acquire content in non-infringing ways. I suspect that, instead, we’ll witness a ratcheting up of anonymization and encryption schemas to limit file sharing surveillance practices.

Many will say that ISP collaboration is just the next stage of an ongoing cat-and-mouse game but, in so saying this, may fail so see the larger implications of this game. In the UK, worries that the content industry might get powerful new legal capabilities via the Digital Economy Act led the security and intelligence services to protest a copyright-related bill. It wasn’t that the services were supportive of infringement but instead that, by encouraging regular citizens to evade and hide their online actions online for consumer gain, the services’ capabilities to monitor for threats to national security would be degraded.

That’s not a small matter. You may be pleased – or not – that the security and intelligence services’ operations might be hindered. Regardless, your stance doesn’t mitigate the fact that copyright legislation threatens to have far reaching impacts. Using ISPs as traffic cops that establish antagonistic relationships with their subscribers is poor business for the ISPs and potentially makes national security issues more challenging to combat. We need to have a far more holistic accounting of what new copyright capacities and actions mean for society generally and, in the process, get away from narrowed discussions that obfuscate or externalize the full potentialities that accompany the (prospective) criminalization broad swathes of the population.