#CyberFLASH: Canadians may soon compete on Jeopardy

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 21: Alex Trebek speaks during a rehearsal before a taping of  Jeopardy! Power Players Week at DAR Constitution Hall on April 21, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)

OTTAWA (CP) — Game show host Alex Trebek says it looks as if Canadians will soon be able to apply to compete on Jeopardy again.

Trebek, who has presided over the quiz show for more than 30 years, is in Ottawa to receive the key to the city and met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau briefly.

The prime minister has praised Trebek’s financial contributions to the University of Ottawa.

The two also discussed a return of Canadians to Trebek’s popular show.

Changes in Canada’s digital privacy laws last year caused problems over Internet applications, but Trebek says they are being ironed out.

Trudeau suggested the host had worked out a fix for the problem.

“I’m sure you’ve been grilled on that,” Trudeau said.

“Well yes, because everyone blames us and I keep turning it around and saying …”

Trudeau interrupted: “You’re blaming me instead.”

“Well not quite,” Trebek said, adding that he has been told a solution is in the works.

The show’s website says it cannot accept registration information from Canadians but “we are currently evaluating this matter.”

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#CyberFLASH: G7 ministers to push for internet freedom, reduce digital divide

computer-laptop-keyboard-852TOKYO: Information technology ministers of the G7 countries, during a meeting in Japan on Saturday, agreed to tackle the digital divide by bringing internet access to more people, and pushing for policies free of political censorship.

The plan set out by the ministers of the G7 countries — Japan, the US, Germany, Britain, France, Canada and Italy — and European Union officials is to enable 1.5 billion more people to have internet access by 2020, EFE news reported.

It is believed that around 4 billion people, representing 60% of the world’s population, still lack internet access.

“We believe that global digital connectivity should in particular contribute to improving the quality of life for all people everywhere, to generating economic growth,” they said.

Meanwhile, in a message to countries such as China and Russia where governments censor web content, the ministers called for a free flow of information.

“We continue to support ICT policies that preserve the global nature of the internet, promote the flow of information across borders and allow internet users to access online information, knowledge and services of their choice,” a joint statment issued after the meeting said.

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#CyberFLASH: Canadians could turn to VPNs to watch NFL games on Twitter

android_mainsm-620x250While Netflix is reportedly following through on its VPN crackdown by blocking Canadians wanting to see content normally only available south of the border, Twitter’s NFL live-streaming may prove the next fertile ground for virtual border hoppers.

The NFL announced that it will partner with Twitter to live-stream 10 Thursday night games for free online. The broadcasts will not be available in Canada due to licencing issues with Rogers, which holds the broadcast rights in the country.

If you’re a Canadian football fan looking for a way to skirt the digital border, however, using a virtual private network (VPN) might be the answer. A VPN allows users to pretend their PC is in another part of the world by re-routing their Internet connection. It also encrypts data and hides your IP address from potential hackers.

“If there are no unpredictable actions taken against VPNs… Canadians will be able to sign up for our services and get ready for the NFL streaming,” explains Marty Kamden, CMO of NordVPN. “Using VPNs is legal and actually recommended to each Internet user, as the primary function of VPNs is to protect online activity from threats, hackers or snooping.”

That being said, using a VPN to access blocked content can be considered an infringement of copyright laws. Some services that offer geo-blocked content are beginning to crack down on the use of VPNs, including Netflix. The popular streaming site followed through on their threat, which blocks even well-intentioned users who might have a VPN solely for privacy reasons. While the VPN ban prompted a petition signed by 40,000 people, Netflix said their new policy has not impacted their subscription numbers.

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#CyberFLASH: Netflix enrages Canada by actually following through with VPN crackdown plans

netflix-errorTensions are rising between Netflix and the people of Canada once again this week as more border-hopping subscribers find out first-hand that the streaming service wasn’t bluffing about that whole “VPN crackdown” thing.

This particular storm started brewing back in January, when Netflix announced that it would be taking steps to prevent members from using virtual private networks, proxies or unblocking services “to fool our systems into thinking they’re in a different country than they’re actually in.”

As most non-American Netflix users well know, the streaming service offers each of its roughly 190 markets different volumes and types of programming based on region-exclusive content licensing agreements.

At press time, Canadian Netflix users could access approximately 4,000 movies and shows, while nearly 7,000 titles were available to subscribers in the U.S.

For many people, however, getting around geo-restrictions is as much about the quality of these titles as it is about quantity.

Since Netflix announced that it would be cracking down on customers who use VPNs, intermittent reports of payment problems with unblocking companies have been rolling in — alongside reports of Canadians finding ways around these problems to continue watching U.S.-restricted Netflix content.

This weekend, however, the tone among border-hopping Netflix viewers changed.

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#CyberFLASH: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says blocking region-switching proxy services is ‘the maturation of Internet TV’

hi-netflixrtxyw4i-8colDuring a recent roundtable discussion MobileSyrup attended at Netflix’s head office in Los Gatos, California, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings finally commented on the company’s controversial move to begin blocking the use of proxy VPN/DNS services.

“We have the obligation to respect the content rights that we buy; it’s just a simple fairness thing. Someone else has paid for the rights in Germany, so we should respect that, just as we would expect the same in return,” said Hastings.

Since Netflix’s 2011 release in Canada, Canadians, as well as people from other regions of the world, have been using proxy DNS/VPN services to access additional Netflix libraries, most notably the wealth of content available in the U.S. It’s worth noting, however, that this is a direct violation of Netflix’s terms of service.

“The basic thing is if we license a movie here [the U.S.], and then another network licenses it in Germany, then we don’t don’t have the rights to display it in Germany. That’s why we have to enforce those VPN rules, just like Amazon Prime Instant Video and others do as well,” said Hastings. “Think of it as the maturation of Internet TV”

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#CyberFLASH: Netflix border crackdown cuts off some customers, but unblocking services fight back

hi-netflixrtxyw4i-8colYes, the Netflix crackdown on cross-border watching is real.

Customers worldwide have grown accustomed to sneaking over virtual walls to stream shows and movies restricted to other countries.

Now, Netflix is stopping some virtual travellers at the border, finally enforcing its age-old policy that says viewers aren’t allowed to access Netflix in other regions.

Meanwhile, unblocking companies that help virtual travellers defy the rules are fighting back. And some are already declaring victory in the battle to keep Netflix’s borders wide open.

Netflix access denied

Numerous customers with the unblocking company Unblock-Us started reporting technical problems soon after Netflix announced its crackdown on Jan. 14.

For a fee, unblocking services do the technical legwork to help customers hide their location so they can hop borders.

For example, the service would help a Netflix Canada customer watch Sons of Anarchy on Netflix U.S. The Canadian version doesn’t carry the show.

“Help,” wrote one border hopping customer on the Unblock-Us tech support site on Jan. 27, explaining that he lives in Toronto and can no longer stream content on Netflix UK.

Another customer posted, “I live in Norway and am currently using your service to watch American Netflix, but now it doesn’t work anymore.”

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#CyberFLASH: The Trouble with the TPP, Day 20: Unenforceable Net Neutrality Rules

15109096143_418befce5e_k-780x350One of President Barack Obama’s selling points for the TPP has been claims that it helps preserve “an open and free Internet.” The references to an open and free Internet, which is closely linked to net neutrality, may strike a chord with those concerned with digital issues. However, the Trouble with the TPP is that a close examination of the text and a comparison with existing net neutrality rules in many TPP countries reveals that it doesn’t advance the issue. In fact, the standards are so weak and unenforceable that at least half of the TPP countries already far exceed them.

Article 14.10 of the TPP provides:

Subject to applicable policies, laws and regulations, the Parties recognise the benefits of consumers in their territories having the ability to:
(a) access and use services and applications of a consumer’s choice available on the Internet, subject to reasonable network management;
(b) connect the end-user devices of a consumer’s choice to the Internet, provided that such devices do not harm the network; and
(c) access information on the network management practices of a consumer’s Internet access service supplier.

As a starting point, this is not mandated obligation. The TPP countries merely “recognize” the benefits of some net neutrality provisions. For those countries without net neutrality rules, there is no requirement to implement anything in order to comply with the agreement. In fact, if there was any doubt about the lack of enforceability, the entire provision is prefaced by the reference to “subject to applicable policies, and regulations.” In other words, the provision doesn’t advance anything for countries without net neutrality provisions.

For those with net neutrality provisions, the TPP typically falls well short of what they already have in place. In Canada, the CRTC’s Internet Traffic Management Practices go far beyond the TPP, offering more comprehensive coverage, a complaints mechanism, and enforceable obligations overseen by the CRTC. Many other TPP countries also have stronger net neutrality rules:

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#CyberFLASH: Trudeau must defend cyberspace: PM’s advisers

CPT101318547_ContentOTTAWA — Defending and advancing a free, open and secure cyberspace is essential to Canada’s prosperity as well as its commitment to human rights and democracy, advisers have told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The next several years will bring steady progress in the development of international frameworks for the digital realm, including Internet norms, agreements and governance arrangements, says a briefing note presented to Trudeau when he took office in November.

Repressive regimes want to harness communication networks to silence criticism, control information and limit access — threatening to undermine the open and connected nature of the Internet, warns the note obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

“There is a window in which Canada, drawing on its diplomatic strengths, could help preserve the openness, resiliency and security of cyberspace on which Canadians and people across the globe have come to rely.”

The note stresses the role of the Internet — with three billion users, and another billion expected by 2017 — in driving economic growth and creating opportunities for social and democratic progress.

Canada is working closely with its Five Eyes partners — Britain, the United States, Australia and New Zealand — as well as Sweden, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the European Union and Mexico to sway emerging powers and other developing countries that have yet to take a firm stance on cyberspace issues, the note says.

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