#CyberFLASH: How a file-sharing lawsuit against Rogers threatens your Internet privacy: Geist

hurt-locker2.jpg.size.custom.crop.1086x612The centrepiece of Canada’s 2012 digital copyright reforms was the legal implementation of the “notice-and-notice” system that seeks to balance the interests of copyright holders, the privacy rights of Internet users and the legal obligations of Internet service providers (ISPs).

The law makes it easy for copyright owners to send infringement notices to ISPs, who are legally required to forward the notifications to their subscribers. The personal information of subscribers is not disclosed to the copyright owner.

Despite the promise of the notice-and-notice system, it has been misused virtually from the moment it took effect, with copyright owners exploiting a loophole in the law by sending settlement demands within the notices.

The government has tried to warn recipients that they need not settle — the Office of Consumer Affairs advises that there are no obligations on a subscriber that receives a notice and that getting a notice does not necessarily mean you will be sued — yet many subscribers panic when they receive notifications and promptly pay hundreds or thousands of dollars.

While the government has been slow to implement an easy fix for the problem in the form of regulations prohibiting the inclusion of settlement demands within the notices, another issue looms on the legal horizon that could eviscerate the privacy protections associated with the system.

Earlier this year, Voltage Pictures, which previously engaged in a lengthy court battle to require Canadian ISPs to disclose the names of alleged file sharers, adopted a new legal strategy. While the company obtained an order to disclose names in the earlier case, it came with conditions and costs. Its latest approach involves filing a reverse class action lawsuit against an unknown number of alleged uploaders of five of its movies.

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#CyberFLASH: How a file-sharing lawsuit against Rogers threatens your Internet privacy: Geist

201310281614240l4j1t1yodou1gmqihww4xc3fThe centrepiece of Canada’s 2012 digital copyright reforms was the legal implementation of the “notice-and-notice” system that seeks to balance the interests of copyright holders, the privacy rights of Internet users and the legal obligations of Internet service providers (ISPs).

The law makes it easy for copyright owners to send infringement notices to ISPs, who are legally required to forward the notifications to their subscribers. The personal information of subscribers is not disclosed to the copyright owner.

Despite the promise of the notice-and-notice system, it has been misused virtually from the moment it took effect, with copyright owners exploiting a loophole in the law by sending settlement demands within the notices.

The government has tried to warn recipients that they need not settle — the Office of Consumer Affairs advises that there are no obligations on a subscriber that receives a notice and that getting a notice does not necessarily mean you will be sued — yet many subscribers panic when they receive notifications and promptly pay hundreds or thousands of dollars.

While the government has been slow to implement an easy fix for the problem in the form of regulations prohibiting the inclusion of settlement demands within the notices, another issue looms on the legal horizon that could eviscerate the privacy protections associated with the system.

Earlier this year, Voltage Pictures, which previously engaged in a lengthy court battle to require Canadian ISPs to disclose the names of alleged file sharers, adopted a new legal strategy. While the company obtained an order to disclose names in the earlier case, it came with conditions and costs. Its latest approach involves filing a reverse class action lawsuit against an unknown number of alleged uploaders of five of its movies.

The Voltage filing seeks certification of the class, a declaration that each member of the class has infringed its copyright, an injunction stopping further infringement, damages and costs of the legal proceedings. Voltage, which produced such award-winning movies as The Hurt Locker and Dallas Buyers Club, names as its representative respondent an unknown uploader — John Doe — who is linked to a Rogers IP address. It admits that it does not know the names or identifies of any members of its proposed class, but seeks to group anyone in Canada who infringed its copyright.

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#CyberFLASH: Sorry Bell, accessing U.S. Netflix is not theft: Geist

house-of-cards.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxBell Media president Mary Ann Turcke sparked an uproar this week when she told a telecom conference that Canadians who use a virtual private network (VPN) to access the U.S. version of Netflix are stealing.

Turcke is not the first Canadian broadcast executive to raise the issue – her predecessor Kevin Crull and Rogers executive David Purdy expressed similar frustration with VPN use earlier this year – but her characterization of paying customers as thieves was bound to garner attention.

Turcke’s comments provide evidence of the mounting frustration among Canadian broadcasters over Netflix’s remarkable popularity in Canada. Netflix launched in Canada less than five years ago, yet reports indicate that it now counts 40 per cent of English-speaking Canadians as subscribers. By contrast, Bell started its Mobile TV service within weeks of the Netflix launch, but today has less than half the number of subscribers.

While Canadian broadcasters may be unhappy with subscribers that access the U.S. service, the problem is primarily a competitive issue, not a legal one. Some estimate that 25 per cent of Canadian subscribers have used a VPN to access Netflix. That means 75 per cent of subscribers – millions of Canadians – are content with the Canadian service that offers the largest Netflix library of content outside of the U.S.

Turcke’s claim that the minority of Canadian subscribers who access U.S. Netflix through VPNs are “stealing” simply does not withstand legal scrutiny. Those subscribers might be breaching the Netflix terms and conditions, but that is not breaking the law.

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#CyberFLASH: ‘Human error’ blamed for Rogers online security breach

web-rogers-0107Rogers Communications Inc. says that a security breach it is attributing to “human error” has resulted in outsiders gaining access to information associated with dozens of its medium-size business accounts.

The intruders appear to have used a technique known as “social engineering” – which relies on manipulating people into volunteering confidential information – to trick an IT support agent into handing over an employee’s confidential details that were then used to gain access to Rogers’s internal records.

Patricia Trott, a spokeswoman for the Toronto-based Internet and phone provider, said a “third party” accessed a “single e-mail address of one of our enterprise sales employees, who managed a small number of medium business accounts.”

The breach occurred last week, she said in a statement Monday, and was due to “human error (not system error).”

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#CyberFLASH: Government offers more wireless airwaves to boost competition 0

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TORONTO — The government is looking for new players in the wireless sector to increase competition and lower prices for consumers attached to their mobile devices.

Industry Minister James Moore announced AWS-3 spectrum licences will be up for grabs sometime in the next year to attract entrants to compete against Bell, Rogers and Telus.

Moore said Monday 30 MHz of the 50 MHz available will be set aside for new providers and strict provisions will be imposed on the transfer of AWS-3 to ensure consumers benefit from lower prices, more choice and better service.

Consultations on licensing the spectrum, considered ideal for fast service on wireless devices like smartphones and tablets, will begin this summer, the minister said.

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#CyberFLASH: Teksavvy and Rogers publish transparency reports highlighting the extent of government data requests

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Third-party internet provider Teksavvy and Rogers, one of the largest ISPs in Canada, have published the first Canadian telecommunications transparency reports.

Both Teksavvy and Rogers have released documents detailing the subscriber information both companies have released to police and spy agencies over the last few years. Teksavvy disclosed their transparency report first and then Rogers followed soon after.

According to Teksavvy’s transparency report, the company rejects two out of every three police requests for information. In Roger’s case, the company received 174,917 requests in 2013 for customer information from government and law enforcement agencies. This is 480 requests a day and one request per every 11 Rogers subscribers. 74,000 of these requests were court orders which means approximately 100,000 did not include warrants.

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#CyberFLASH: Canada – Rogers Wireless suffering countrywide outages

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Customers of Rogers Wireless are experiencing widespread outages of the company’s voice cellphone service, with no indications of when the disruption will be fixed.

The countrywide problems are also plaguing Rogers’s Fido and Chatr wireless brands.

The company first confirmed on its Twitter feed at 6:40 p.m. ET that it was experiencing “voice service interruptions affecting wireless customers in Ontario & Quebec,” but later updated to say the outages are across Canada.

Posters on Twitter from Halifax to Vancouver say they have no voice service, and many are also reporting issues with text messages, or SMS.

An email to CBC News from a Rogers spokeswoman said the company doesn’t yet know when service will be restored.

“We don’t yet have an estimate on when it will be resolved, but we’re working to restore service as quickly as possible,” wrote Jennifer Kett, senior manager of media relations. 

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Competition Bureau Sues Bell, Rogers and Telus for Misleading Consumers: Bureau Seeks Customer Refunds and $31 Million In Penalties

OTTAWA — Following a five-month investigation, the Competition Bureau has begun legal proceedings against Bell Canada (Bell), Rogers Communications, Inc. (Rogers), TELUS Corporation (Telus) and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), requiring them to stop misleading advertising that promotes costly “premium texting services”, and to compensate consumers. The Bureau is seeking full customer refunds and administrative monetary penalties — $10 million each from Bell, Rogers and Telus, and $1 million from the CWTA.

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