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Canada Privacy The Internet

Canadian Police Recommend Ending Anonymity On the Internet 231

An anonymous reader writes "Michael Geist reports that last week the Ontario Provincial Police, one of Canada's largest police forces, recommended legally ending anonymity on the Internet. Noting the need for drivers licenses to drive or marriage licenses to get married, the police suggested that an Internet license that would reveal all users is needed to address online crime. The Canadian Supreme Court strongly endorsed a right to anonymity earlier this year."
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Canadian Police Recommend Ending Anonymity On the Internet

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  • ROFL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kuzb ( 724081 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @02:41PM (#48352843)

    Yeah, good luck with that one, RCMP! it's like law enforcement lives inside of it's own little reality distortion bubble.

    • Re:ROFL (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2014 @02:47PM (#48352921)

      This was the Ontario provincial police and not the RCMP.

      I doubt this will go anywhere. This appears to be a statement made by someone with no grasp of the technical issues being blown way out of proportion.

      • Re:ROFL (Score:4, Informative)

        by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @03:02PM (#48353181)
        Sounds to me like it's a statement by someone that doesn't understand the broader implications in how collected data over time can be abused either. The American FBI proved that with its extensive files on people of-note that it wanted to find something, anything that could be used against them, even if that leverage was based on something that was not illegal in the then-present, was not illegal in the past, or was illegal in the past but not illegal in the then-present.

        We as a society have changed what is and is not acceptable. Judging past actions and attitudes through a current lens will always yield a negative view, and thus the practice needs to be discouraged when it's not appropriate.
        • by xclr8r ( 658786 )
          I think this should be implemented with a sample population 1st and records open to the public. The sample population would of course be the Ontario P.P.
        • Re:ROFL (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @11:15PM (#48356855)

          Sounds to me like it's a statement by someone that doesn't understand...

          Historically, police have ALWAYS said this. "We have to restrict people's freedoms or criminals will get away." It has been the endless chant of law enforcement, and when legislators somehow get the idea it is correct, invariably freedoms are restricted or infringed.

          But of course it's nonsense. Look where that kind of attitude has brought us: not just more total people but more people per capita in prison than any other country in the civilized world (and even including places many of use would not count as civilized).

          History shows very clearly that freer societies do better in every measurable way: health, longevity, economy, etc. etc. Police states have invariably led to the downfall of the culture.

      • Well, the one thing we can always be certain of, and that is law enforcement is woefully, one might even say willfully, ignorant of technical issues.

        • No, they are technically competent. They just want to make their jobs easier. Following their logic, every vehicle should have a GPS tracking device to make it easier to find the speeders, drug dealers, kidnappers, bail jumpers, etc. Why let privacy concerns get in the way of making their job easier?

          ~~
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        The Canadian Devil was hired as the prime minister of internet identity.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        As far as Ontario is concerned, I'm not sure they'll notice any difference.... since they tend to believe that Ontario is practically all of Canada over there anyways, or at least the only part of it that actually matters.
      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Ahh...the OPP, who directly campaigned for the current government of Ontario. Who were doing an investigation into the gas plant scandals, which has mysteriously ended...the Liberals(party) however, have investigated themselves, and I'm sure they're going to find no corruption at all.

        Being realistic though, the OPP doesn't have in-car terminals, if they want to make an inquiry they have to call it in. So that should tell you how far behind the times they are. Compared to a place like Peel Region where ev

    • by Calavar ( 1587721 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @02:48PM (#48352943)
      TFS said it was the Ontario Provincial Police that gave the recommendation, not the RCMP.
      • by Phics ( 934282 )

        That said, the fact that it was the OPP rather than the RCMP makes it even less likely this will fly on a Federal level.

        • by Matheus ( 586080 )

          It can fly or not fly on the federal level in Canada... that will have no bearing on the rest of the world NOR is it practically feasible.

          blah blah blah being a cop is hard make it easier blah blah blah...

    • Re: ROFL (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2014 @02:49PM (#48352951)

      People who post anonymously are cowards.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      RCMP != OPP

    • Re:ROFL (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The Ickle Jones ( 3869681 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @02:52PM (#48352989)

      We need to give up all of our rights in order to make the jobs of cops easier. How about we let the government install surveillance equipment in everyone's homes and allow them to break into anyone's house for any reason? After all, freedom is less important than safety.

      Now we're thinking Small!

      • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        The problem as I see it is not the authorities, but that if you have an unusual name and have opinions that aren't popular in one camp then you run the risk of getting harassed. Even if your opinion is legal and acceptable you can still run this risk. You will only have to go as far as a political opinion that can cause trench warfare. Like Obamacare.

        Some people have the tendency to focus more on you as a person than on the issue.

        The end result will be that people won't dare to publish their opinions due to

        • The problem as I see it is not the authorities, but that if you have an unusual name and have opinions that aren't popular in one camp then you run the risk of getting harassed.

          It's both. We already know that the authorities will harass movement leaders (such as MLK), people posting jokes, popular people who say things they don't like, etc. 'Normal' people will also harass them too, of course.

        • by Znork ( 31774 )

          It's utterly disgusting when they try to frame this as an issue to resolve 'cyberbullying'. Blatantly disregarding all those who avoid 'real world bullying' by being able to anonymously publish thoughts and opinions on the internet.

          It is not a good thing that, for many, it's more convenient to be anonymous or pseudonymous if you're part of a sexual, political or religious minority, but it is a reality. Forcing all those individuals to shut up or risk facing real life consequences up to and including physica

        • Without anonymity, there absolutely is a chilling effect, yes.

          But your post ... 'even if your opinion is legal...'. is that a thing? Opinions being illegal, anywhere?

          • Yes and no. Expressing opinions can become illegal if it's done to harass or cause suffering. In Canada hate speech is a crime. Expressing opinion in the form of counseling someone to commit a crime can be actionable. The distinction can get fuzzy at times.

      • Re:ROFL (Score:5, Insightful)

        by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday November 10, 2014 @03:01PM (#48353159)

        Fascism begins when the efficiency of the Government becomes more important than the Rights of the People.

        There are a lot of people out there who would like the world to be a bit more orderly. Even if there is a bit less freedom. As long as they're still at the top.

        Think of all the dictatorships and such that would love to be able to lock down the Internet like that. With the support of those Canadian politicians and police.

    • guess we can call them Canuckistanis now, eh, because they are among the Internet deniers. I have a better idea. we remove Canada, Egypt, Iran, Pakinstan, et al from the Internet. let them send messages in a bottle.

    • If there was any one thing that would degrade and destroy the Internet permanently for everyone, it would be THIS. Also, good luck trying to get the rest of the world to go along with it, you jackasses, and thanks so much for essentially saying 'oh, your country doesn't believe in free speech and the Internet is your only way to be heard? Tough shit'. And they say we here in the U.S. are the assholes. I thought Canadians were supposed to be polite to a fault.
    • by MacDork ( 560499 )
      Re: RCMP.

      What anonymity?

      -- NSA
      • by Prune ( 557140 )
        It's not the RCMP; it's the Ontario Provincial police. Your joke doesn't work nearly as well when this story is about a mere regional police force and has no implications as to state policy.
  • They need to submit their request to the International Internet Board of Governors!

    --jeffk++

    • by afidel ( 530433 )

      Within a country it's easy to accomplish, all you do is require all ISPs offering service within the country to require it, and if you tie the license to an x.500 cert and use 802.1x at all end user access points then you can effectively require that users within that country are not anonymous. The downfall of the plan is that it's the Internet, a connection of networks ruled only by the protocols that are used to establish communications, so if you expect to be able to track an IP in Moscow to an individua

      • Thanks! That would be a fun experiment to see how much businesses would be affected. Can you even put 802.1x in the wireless access points and cell phones?

        --jeffk++

        • by afidel ( 530433 )

          We use 802.1x on WiFi, in fact that's the most secure method as it provides for mutual authentication between client and AP. Cellphones are easy since the SIM standard already allows for secure digital certificate storage.

          • But that would be authentication between the client and AP.. How would 802.1x on WIFI work when rcmp.gc.ca is the server that has to authenticate the client?

            --jeffk++

      • Exactly. People who come up with these ideas have no concept of the technology of how the internet works. To enforce a license for accessing the internet, they would need to circumvent all the secure methods of communication between individuals on the internet. You either have to block all traffic that you don't understand, or people are going to be able to trivially communicate anonymously over the internet. Any time I connect via SSH to my hosting service, connecting to a VPN, or making an HTTPS connecti
        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          You either have to block all traffic that you don't understand

          Which would, in fact, be quite easy to do. As long as you have to connect through a government proxy whose cert authority you must accept, people can have the illusion of safe online banking and no anonymous traffic (or any traffic not understood, for that matter) need be allowed.

          That's the thing about government: it you grant it the legal power to fuck you, technology won't protect you for long. A government with the power to give you everything you want has the power to take everything it wants.

      • Every ISP provider I know in the United States runs a credit check on you when you sign up for service. So, your ISP does know with a high degree of certainty who you are.

    • I thought they needed to submit it to the Elders of the Internet. They can be reached in their offices atop Big Ben where they currently guard The Internet. (No, they won't lend it out to you. The last time they did that, it didn't work out so well.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2014 @02:44PM (#48352891)

    1) License to speak in public
    2) License to read a specific book
    3) License to speak to a specific person

    • 4) A Cat license.
      5) A license for my pet fish, Eric.
      • by sinij ( 911942 )
        >>>4) A Cat license.

        While there is no cat license, there is freedom-oppressing limitation of only 7 adult cats per household!
        • While there is no cat license, there is freedom-oppressing limitation of only 7 adult cats per household!

          Yes, there is a cat license. I got one for my pet cat Eric from the man in the cat detector van from the Ministry of Housinge.

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      4. License to be a politician.
      5. License to procreate.

    • "You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, or drive a car. Hell, you need a license to catch a fish! But they'll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father."

    • by nickol ( 208154 )

      4) License to make anonymous postings. Requires exam and health control.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2014 @02:47PM (#48352923)

    You know, the license we've needed for 200 years? The one that lets you anonymously send mail? Oh that doesn't exist? And people coped with this new technology? Even when it was used to deliver literal bombs? But of course we need one for the internet!

  • In other words (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bravecanadian ( 638315 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @02:48PM (#48352939)

    The police find it hard to investigate and want an ez-pass.

    • by west ( 39918 )

      Precisely. People might like anonymity, but they complain mightily when the cops tell them "sorry, there's nothing we can do" even as your identity is being openly sold on the Internet.

      So, it's only natural that the police forces push for regulation to make their job easier. After all, I push for things to make my job easier as well.

      However, while such a push is natural, it is also to be opposed. I don't expect the police to carefully weigh the pros and cons of measures to attack crime, after all, that's

  • Next thing you know, they'll try to legally enforce the evil bit [wikipedia.org].

  • Tsk tsk. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blueshift_1 ( 3692407 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @02:58PM (#48353083)
    I feel like the drivers and marriage licenses are not that relevant here. A drivers license is mainly used to show that are at least reasonably competant drivers (though we all know that doesn't mean that much) and a marriage license is more of a way to formalize the legal agreement so that you can file taxes and whatnot as married. The internet is a tool of communication and you can definitely use a pay phone, send a letter, or even buy cellphone without a license of any sort. Just have the cash and pay for the service. Just looking for the easy button on determining who did what on the internet.

    and on a side note, the US uses marriage licenses/laws (in some states) to limit who can get it. Imagine the damage this could cause with the government limited who could use the internet... like dangling fruit over our head to make sure were good little kiddies and never did anything bad on the net.

  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @02:58PM (#48353093) Homepage Journal

    And, for that matter, Communication is a Federal responsibility under the Canadian Constitution, which has strong privacy rights that the Ontario Police and the PM hate.

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @02:59PM (#48353117) Homepage
    So, the cops - an organization that's job is in large part to identify criminals - endorse finding out people's names.

    Similarly, I strongly endorse the idea of supermodels having sex with me.

    I think that both of have just as much right to expect the laws to change to suit our desires.

  • Noting the need for drivers licenses to drive

    Driver's Licenses are an outrage of its own. Somehow somewhere an opinion crept up, that driving is not a right to be taken away from the bad by the Judiciary, but a mere privilege to be granted to the good by the Executive — who, consequently, can also withdraw it without bothering with the pesky judges for any reason (such as not paying child support)... You should be able to drive anonymously — until you break a driving law — just as you can

    • You should be able to drive anonymously — until you break a driving law

      That is something I have never understood, how do citizens lose basic human/citizen rights? What does it matter if someone has jaywalked, should they lose their right to free speech?

  • by MagickalMyst ( 1003128 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @03:02PM (#48353171)
    The real issue has nothing to do with anonymity; it has to do with police being properly trained.

    Our society is degenerating to the point where the police are no longer the noble, chivalric knights that they were once intended to be. Proper police training is quite lacking and is on a continual downward slide, and many people no longer have respect for the boys in blue.

    Too many cops in Canada are racist, egotistical power-trippers with a badge and a gun.

    Law Enforcement should be more concerned with setting the right example by doing the right thing.

    Police are supposed to be there "to serve and protect society", although the last word is strangely omitted on the police cars.

    "To serve and protect" is ambiguous; it begs the question "who are you serving and what are you protecting?"

    It should be obvious, but modern police behaviour would suggest otherwise.

    Perhaps the first thing to do is to fix the writing on the wall, so to speak.
  • In order to get information on specific request, police now needs to submit requests, fill paperwork, get approvals. Too much red tape! Police also wants easy access to all the data.

    When police does get data using "black channels", they need to waste time to find (or make up) some sort of flaws or errors so that to present that flaw as a reason why data was identified and collected to begin with. It is just damn too complicated. More importantly, even police officers need to go through dozens of all kind o

  • When I was in highschool I spent a summer as a student trainee for the OPP. They knew pretty much nothing about computers and the internet - my main task that summer was helping the Staff Sargent install pirate software on his home computer and his computer in the detachment. This was before it was really feasible to DL pirate software online (whole detachment was on a dial up connection - we were about 2 hours north of Toronto) so he would drive to Toronto's China Town and buy CD-Roms full of pirate apps t
  • Good work Canadian police. You're now in favor policies advocated by every police state on the planet.

  • It would make their job vastly easier, and it would only cost us our privacy. Why work hard when you can strip us of our rights to work easy?

  • I recommend.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @03:23PM (#48353479) Homepage

    That the home addresses and phone numbers of all Canadian police be published.

    They would only be against that if they have something to hide.

  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @03:23PM (#48353483) Homepage

    You enter a website that is hosted in Alberta and you get a popup asking

    Papers Please, Comrade Eh!

  • Shocked I tell you! The police want the ability to identify anyone, anywhere, should they turn their attention to them? I can't believe it! Are you sure this article didn't come from The Onion?

  • Look at other parts of life, where do we require that someone cannot be anonymous (warning I am a Brit, things may differ where you are)

    If you publish something, eg a newspaper, a handbill, a poster (on a wall), these should all have the name of the publisher on them. This seems reasonable, you are saying things that many people will hear/read. If it is libelous then the person being defamed should be able to seek correction or sue you.

    If you sell something: the name of the seller should be known, so that i

  • I know someone who is rabidly anti-privacy and calls anyone who disagrees with him 'deluded wingnuts' and other less savory terms.
    He thinks the government should have full access to you all the time to "stop crime".

    Yet he posts videos on YouTube with his face blurred out and his voice altered so he doesn't get fired from jobs.
    It's okay for HIM to have privacy, but he doesn't believe anyone else should have it.

  • Just think of all the death threats and so on we wouldn't have to deal with without anonymity. And of course all the other sorts of attacks. The problem is, 'no anonymity' depends on the government being completely trustworthy. Which of course it isn't, even in Canada. If this plan were enacted, its main use would no doubt be to suppress criticism of the police.
  • by Maow ( 620678 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @04:00PM (#48353857) Journal

    The Ontario Provincial Police was part of the law enforcement panel and was asked by Senator Tom McInnis, a Conservative Senator from Nova Scotia, about what other laws are needed to address cyberbullying.

    That's when Scott Naylor of the OPP gave the response outlined in TFS.

    Of course, the Ontario Provincial Police have little influence nation-wide.

    A Conservative senator, on the other hand, does.

    Naylor’s comment was approved by Senator McInnis, who stated that he “absolutely agreed” with the recommendation.

    Of course, the Supreme Court of Canada sides with anonymity on-line. But Senators and MPs have the ability to (attempt to) pass legislation that would attempt this lunatic idea.

    • by davecb ( 6526 )

      The Minister agrees, too:(:-))

      The former head of the OPP at the time of the G8 in Toronto is Julian Fantino. He is now Minister of Veterans Affairs in the government that so objects to personal privacy, so I'm not surprised at the OPP position.

  • by dskoll ( 99328 ) on Monday November 10, 2014 @04:05PM (#48353905) Homepage

    I wonder how the OPP would react if they were required by law to stream video of all their officers' activities in real-time. Suddenly they'd like a little privacy and anonymity, thank you very much!

  • This looks like the OPP wanting to make their jobs easier. Guess what? Policing is not supposed to be an easy job and certainly not by short-cutting individual rights. Such short-cutting is a form of corruption -- doing something for their own benefit (better collar record).

    The cops need to get out of Timmy's and do some real police work tracking down perps. Not asking their jobs be made easier at everyone else's expense.

  • Film at 11, after it goes through the Propaganda Minister's office for review.

  • In the USA the same argument is made regarding showing identification to vote. Why not, you have to have an ID to drive, get on an airplane, etc., etc?

    The correct reasoning is that I don't need photo ID to vote, so I don't need ID to fly or to drive. (I can understand when you need to demonstrate competency if public may be put at risk.)

    This is why you should not disregard the tinfoil hat slippery-slopers.

  • This is a clear cut case for seperation and balance of power and why its a good thing police are unable to make laws, and should not be left to govern policy.
  • You don't need a library card to go to a library and read. Additionally, you can go to a bookstore (I think some still exist) and buy any book you'd like without revealing your identity.

  • If you read the court case mentioned, the supreme court ruled that a search warrant was required before police could access the defendant's computer, which they did not do.

    Anonymity was tangential to the case at best.

  • "Ontario Provincial Police" = Third Reich 2.0?

  • "I'm not good at my job, it's too hard! Make it easier for me!"

  • Seriously, I wish these police services would just stop whining and get on with their jobs. Frankly this is just another excuse to be lazy, they have plenty of powers under the law to demand warrants to uncover who people are. It is insulting for police to take this attitude that they don't have enough powers or are somehow impeded in performing their duties. I have a simple message:

    Get back to work.

  • If ever you can be legally punished not because you did something that hurt or even endangered someone, but simply because you didn't ask permission first, liberty has one foot already in the grave.

    If someone with a license to do X does X and hurts or endangers somebody anyway despite their license, they get rightly punished for it anyway.

    If somebody with a license to do X does X and nobody gets hurt or endangered in any way, they don't get in trouble for anything, as they shouldn't.

    If somebody without a li

    • by mcvos ( 645701 )

      So you're against requiring a driver's license before you can drive a car?

      Sometimes the license isn't just about permission, but about showing you have mastered the skills necessary to do the thing without endangering anyone.

  • To the Ontario Provincial Police,

    You are hereby cordially invited to either: 1 - fuck off, 2 - bugger off, or 3 - piss off; whichever is the most commonly used expression in Canada.

  • Require a clue about how technology works from any official that makes statements about the Internet. Fire those that di it without. That will curb the deeply disturbing trend we see and finally end bullshit spouted by police and other officials.

  • When everyone has their own IP address they will no longer be anonymous. No more NATting etc. and you will be able to tell exactly who is who?
  • I can certainly understand the desire to do away with anonymity, particularly in light of crime, but also harassment, threats and doxxing that are plaguing some communities. But as usual, there's two sides to these kind of things. Not every government is equally benevolent, and dissidents and whistleblowers also need anonymity to be able to leak the information necessary to address the abuses by the powerful.

The decision doesn't have to be logical; it was unanimous.

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