For the London Free Press – January 5, 2014 – Read this at lfpress.com
It was announced in December that the Canadian Anti-Spam legislation (sometimes called CASL) will be in force July 1, 2014.
The legislation is complex, and because of its extremely broad definition of spam, will be a compliance nightmare for many businesses and charities. Many of us routinely send seemingly innocuous emails that will be considered spam. The time and effort required to comply will be significant. Penalties for violating the act are severe, so it’s not something that can be ignored.
Technology that becomes part of us is a long way off, but it’s inevitable. For now, smart watches and Google Glass are examples of wearable computing that will become more common. Wearable computers will be interfaces to our smartphones, monitor our activities, fitness and health, and act as cameras and gps guides.
The latest gaming consoles (Xbox and PS4) do far more than just play games. They include smart TV functions and access to entertainment services such as Netflix. Watch for these to become the central entertainment and communications device for many people.
Courts are starting to understand just how personal our electronic devices — ranging from computers to smartphones — are, and how invasive it is for others to look at them. They can be a window to personal information such as email, banking details, our location and health. Looking at one can be as invasive as searching our home.
The Supreme Court of Canada recently released a decision saying that a warrant to search a house does not give the right to search the contents of a computer found in the house unless it specifically mentions the computer.
The Supreme Court will soon decide whether police can search someone’s cellphone when they arrest them. The Ontario court of Appeal said it could be searched if the phone is unlocked, but not if it was locked by a password. Given current and future technologies that give us access to our phones, such as fingerprint readers, facial recognition and heartbeat recognition, that distinction may not be as simple as it seems.
It would not be surprising to see a decision that requires a warrant to look at any smartphone regardless if it is locked. While the locked vs unlocked theory does follow a certain logic, it can be argued that it is like saying police require a warrant to enter a locked house, but not an unlocked one.
The very tools that we use to work and interact with others also make it easier to watch and track us. The NSA / Snowden revelations will continue, along with continued attempts by governments to increase their ability to surveil and get information about us without warrants.
There’s a great fear that we are already in a surveillance society, let alone be headed to one. Many service providers and privacy advocates will continue to push back at that, such as by implementing increased encryption and more robust security.