I pay 26.9 cents for every dollar earned to federal government representatives like Joy Smith? I think it's time we demand a refund.
Joy Smith, a conservative MP, introduced her proposed "clean internet act" (Bill C-427) for first reading in Parliament today. The full name of this act is: An Act to Prevent the Use of the Internet to Distribute Child Pornography, Material that Advocates, Promotes or Incites Racial Hatred, and Material that Portrays or Promotes Violence Against Women". That's quite a title … "Clean Internet Act" works for the moment, but soon it will be referred to as "The Bill that Never Was".
The idea is that this bill would grant the industry minister special powers to search data as well as the ability to order an ISP to block content deemed inappropriate. It would also force ISPs to exclude service to convicted offenders, and leave company officials legally liable for failing to comply with certian provisions.
This seems to be a very noble cause, but how can any government agency actually control what content Canadians submit or collect from the internet?
I'll use myself as an example of what a particular government would need to do in order to discover what I was uploading and downloading.
Determining my uploads: First, confiscate my entire digital library, networked computers, notebooks and any PC I've had direct contact with in the last 14 days, including workstations at various employers and their servers (good luck with that). Second, hand me over to the Syrians for a year to beat the passwords out of me for the 256-bit encryption coded archives I have on my off-site servers and NAS.
Determining my downloads: First, confiscate my entire digital library, networked computers, notebooks and any PC I've had direct contact with in the last 60 days, including workstations at various employers and their servers. Second, hand me over to the Syrians for a year to two in order to beat the username and passwords out of me for the various online servers I have over the globe in order to obtain backups and offline content.
There are only two places where my passwords are kept … in my head, and in God's book. I wouldn't give these to anybody for any reason. Not because I have anything illegal to hide, but because my encrypted files contain the source code for the various projects I've done for past employers. I'll take these things to the grave before I break the Non-Disclosure Agreements I've signed. A year or two in the slammer protecting a company's secrets might just be some good PR.
Now, I use this example for a few reasons. ISPs can't track everything we see and do online. It's just not realistically feasible. Sure, they can track what sites we visit, what files we download, where we get them from, what IPs we visit most often … the list goes on. But what about the content of those files? If the feds are truly worried about people distributing or witnessing child porn, inciting racial or sexual intolerance, or violence towards women, then I guess sites like 4chan and half the online forums on the planet will be blocked from all Canadians. Heck, even Maddox's tongue-in-cheek "Civil Disobedience is Still Disobedience" image would need to be moderated.
But how do you moderate a file called 1390192804018.jpg ?
This bill just seems to highlight the problems that some people have with understanding the internet, and it's most likely the result of a late-Friday afternoon luncheon with a bunch of free speakers who talk about things they just can't comprehend. Throw enough buzzwords around like SEO, Web 2.0 and Google, and the masses will be sure to think you know what you're doing … right? I think the only thing this bill is missing is a reference to Ted Stevens' now famous speech:
"Ten movies streaming across that, that Internet, and what happens to your own personal Internet? I just the other day got… an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially.
… They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material."
- Ted Stevens, United States Senator (R-Alaska)
I've been waiting months to use that quote.
The internet can't be regulated with traditional styles of laws and enforcements. Moderating the internet would be like moderating your own inner-most thoughts. This isn't to say that we're all closet pedophiles who are so racially intolerant that we beat women just to amuse ourselves (beating men is okay, I guess … so why did George W get so much guff about Guantanimo?), but it would be nice if the people who tried to make the internet a morally cleaner place for Canadians or the world in general actually knew a thing or two about it.
I hope that Joy Smith has the opportunity to make a Stevens-like comment in the House of Commons. If I'm paying almost 27% on all earned income, the least I should expect is some comic relief from the governments who are sworn to protect us.