All posts by Administrator

Bank’s notification to customers triggers PATRIOT Act concerns

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has released a case summary regarding a number of complaints it had received after CIBC notified its VISA cardholders that it utilizes a service provider located in the United States and that there is therefore the possibility that U.S. law enforcement or regulatory agencies might be able to obtain access to Canadian cardholders’ personal information under U.S. law.

While the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has gone on record stating that the privacy implications of anti-terrorism legislation and outsourcing need to be the focus of continued public debate, the Assistant Privacy Commissioner stated that the central issue of these complaints was whether the bank acted in accordance with its obligations under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (the Act) – the finding of the Assistant Privacy Commissioner was that CIBC was in fact meeting its obligations under PIPEDA.

Peering Problems Cause Internet Disruption

A dispute between two large Internet backbone providers created a massive disruption on October 6th after Level 3 Communications Inc. stopped accepting Internet traffic from Cogent Communications Group Inc. The result was that many users were unable to reach large portions of the Internet. E-mail traffic, Instant Messaging and Web traffic were all shut down unless the servers were connected through redundant links that were directly or indirectly connected to each one of the two rival networks.

Like other large ISPs, Level 3 and Cogent exchanged traffic through a no-cost Peering Arrangement. However, Level 3 alleged that it was handling far more traffic from Cogent than it was sending to Cogent. Cogent countered that the real motivation was that Level 3 was trying to force Cogent to raise its rates, which are generally below market.

The two quickly made nice with each other and the problem is solved, at least temporarily. However, it highlighted the power that the large backbone ISPs have and will likely prompt the Europeans to add another grievance to their concern regarding concentration of control in the US of the Internet.

Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA)

Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) released a 59-page decision on September 23, 2005 which provides that any voice over IP, or VoIP, provider linking with the public telephone network must be wiretap-ready. The rule would cover the major VOIP providers such as Packet 8, SkypeOut and Vonage. However, the rule also applies to any “internet access service” that offers upstream or downstream speeds of at least 200kbps. The requirements may be onerous for smaller entities. In a footnote, the ruling notes that the regulations “are not intended” to cover hot spots. However, greater clarity on applicability will likely be forthcoming in a second regulation, expected by the end of the year.

Its applicability to P2P-based VOIP networks such as Skype would interesting. While the Rule would likely cover the SkypeOut service which provides Skype users with connectivity to the public telephone network, finding a means to provide access to encrypted P2P transmissions which travel between two people not using the public network would likely be very problematic.

Consumer Protection Changes on the Way

On July 30, 2005 major changes to Ontario’s consumer protection regime will come into effect. The Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (CPA) applies to all consumer transactions where the consumer or the supplier is located in Ontario when the transaction takes place. It will therefore also be of interest to suppliers located outside of Ontario who enter into transactions with Ontario residents.
Continue reading Consumer Protection Changes on the Way

Creative Commons: Alternative Licensing Schemes Come of Age

The explosive growth of the Internet in the past 10 years has brought new challenges to copyright owners wishing to protect unauthorized distribution and use of their works. However, it has also prompted the development of new licensing mechanisms for those wanting to share their works. These non-traditional mechanisms have supported the open source movement which has allowed the development of functionally competitive free alternatives to copyrighted commercial software, including operating systems such as LINUX, office suites such as OpenOffice (a free alternative to Microsoft Office) and Web browsers such as Firefox. Such open source software is distributed pursuant to licensing terms that allow it to be used and distributed at no charge, and in a way which ensures that enhancements developed by others are also shared with the community. The use of such software is growing in popularity and beginning to eat into Microsoft’s market share.
Continue reading Creative Commons: Alternative Licensing Schemes Come of Age

Junk Fax Problem

It’s a new day. You arrive at the office. There to great you are 20 pages of advertisements sitting on your fax machine. Toner cartridges, computer systems, trips to Florida. That’s another couple of dollars for paper, toner, electricity, wear and tear on your fax machine. When they arrive during the business day, unsolicited faxes can also tie up your fax machine.
Continue reading Junk Fax Problem

Securing WiFi Access Points

Wireless Access Points (WAPs) are being increasingly deployed both in the office environment as well as in many homes to make internet access more convenient. At home, they can allow lawyers to access the internet from anywhere in the house or backyard. In the workplace, they can allow a lawyer to take a laptop from office to office and remain connected. They can also be used to facilitate internet access for clients and guests.
Continue reading Securing WiFi Access Points