#CyberFLASH: The End of Online Anonymity?

fingerprint-on-keyboardIf you could change or enact one internet law, what would it be? For some Canadians, it might be new rules to promote greater competition among internet providers or increased copyright flexibilities matching the U.S. fair use provision. For others, it would mean toughening online privacy protection or examining whether Canadian net neutrality rules are sufficient.

When Scott Naylor, a detective inspector with the Ontario Provincial Police was asked the question during a Senate hearing earlier this month on Bill C-13, the government’s lawful access legislation, he responded that he would eliminate anonymity on the internet. Naylor likened internet access to obtaining a driver’s licence or a marriage licence, noting that we provide identification for many different activities, yet there is no requirement to identify yourself (or be identified) when using the internet.

While acknowledging that a universal identification system is impractical, he said would ideally like a mandatory digital fingerprint for Internet users that would identify them sitting behind the computer. Naylor’s comments were quickly greeted with support from Conservative Senator Tom McInnis, who lamented the use of assumed names and agreed that identifying the identity of online users would be a good thing.

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