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Archive for May 13th, 2008

Bell accused of privacy invasion

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

By Peter Nowak, CBC News
Last Updated: Monday, May 12, 2008

University of Ottawa legal clinic urges investigation of internet traffic shaping

The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, a University of Ottawa legal clinic specializing in internet- and other technology-related law, has joined the assault on Bell Canada Inc. and its traffic-shaping practices, urging an investigation by the country’s privacy commissioner.

The group says Bell has failed to obtain the consent of its retail and wholesale internet customers in applying its deep-packet inspection technology, which tells the company what subscribers are using their connections for. Bell is using DPI to find and limit the use of peer-to-peer applications such as BitTorrent, which it says are congesting its network.

The CIPPIC, which is made up mainly of lawyers and law students from the University of Ottawa, says Bell has not only failed to show that its network is congested and that its actions are necessary, but it has also run afoul of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) in doing so.

“Practices [such as] those involving the collection and use of personal information are not necessary to ensure network integrity and quality of service,” wrote CIPPIC director Philippa Lawson in a letter to the commissioner dated May 9.

“Moreover, subscribers whose traffic is being inspected have not consented to the inspection and use of their data for this purpose.”

Bell says it is using DPI only to read the “header” on the type of traffic, which determines what kind of usage it is. But CIPPIC contends that DPI must be used to “open the envelope” on the traffic for it to be of any use to an internet service provider, thus violating the user’s privacy.

“The evidence is clear that DPI technologies permit the collection and use of personal data about internet subscribers. The extent to which Bell is actually taking advantage of this capability is less clear,” wrote Lawson, who was previously a counsel with the consumer group Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

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Forced chemo treatment of child ‘heavy-handed’ decision: bioethicists

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

The Canadian Press
Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Hamilton family will be in court Tuesday, fighting to regain custody of their sick 11-year-old boy, who himself is fighting doctors’ orders for more chemotherapy.

Now in the care of the Children’s Aid Society, the boy has been thrust into the thorny debate over the right to ignore conventional wisdom and seek alternative therapies.

He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age seven, had chemo and went into remission.

But the cancer returned earlier this year, and further chemo has taken most of his hair, left him with skin rashes and mouth sores, and he’s unable to walk on his own.

After being told last week he needed more chemo or he would face death within six months, the boy refused.

His family supported his decision, but doctors insisted he go through the therapy.

Bioethicists call the decision to force chemo on him “heavy-handed” and “worrisome.”

On Monday, some bioethicists said they were concerned about the decision and worried that other parents’ wishes might be superseded by health-care practitioners who assume they know best.

“If a doctor says [therapy] is in your best interest and you say you don’t want it, within our laws, ethically and legally, that’s fully acceptable,” said Kerry Bowman of the University of Toronto’s Joint Centre for Bioethics.

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Rumsfeld to Pentagon Media Analysts: America Needs another Attack

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Jason Linkins, Huffington Post
May 13, 2008

An ongoing exploration of the documents related to the Pentagon’s “message force multipliers” program has unearthed a clip of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggesting that America, having voted the Democrats back into Congressional power, could benefit from suffering another terrorist attack, and doing so in the presence of the very same military analysts who went on to provide commentary and analysis of the Iraq War.

As documented by Newsvine, it all went down at a valedictory luncheon Rumsfeld hosted for those analysts on December 12, 2006. Many of the “message force multipliers” named in the original New York Times piece were in attendance, including David L. Grange, Donald W. Sheppard, James Marks, Rick Francona, Wayne Downing, and Robert H. Scales, Jr. They were treated to an extraordinary conversation (Newsvine has highlights, the hour-long clip of which can be found here) with Rumsfeld, that included many jaw-dropping moments, such as Rumsfeld admitting that in Iraq, the U.S. “can’t lose militarily, but…can’t win by military means alone,” an agreement that Iraq could use a Syngman Rhee-type dictator (because that’s what democracy smells like!), and a lengthy passage where Rumsfeld jokingly offers a bottle of champagne to anyone who could kill Moqtada al Sadr. You sure don’t see too many people joking on al Sadr these days!

But by far the most extraordinary part of this luncheon is the antipathy the gathered members exhibit toward the American people for having the temerity to vote the Democrats back into power. When Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong bemoans the lack of “sympathetic ears” on Capitol Hill, Rumsfeld offers that the American people lack “the maturity to recognize the seriousness of the threats.” What’s to be done? According to Rumsfeld, “The correction for that, I suppose, is [another] attack.”

DELONG: Politically, what are the challenges because you’re not going to have a lot of sympathetic ears up there.
RUMSFELD: That’s what I was just going to say. This President’s pretty much a victim of success. We haven’t had an attack in five years. The perception of the threat is so low in this society that it’s not surprising that the behavior pattern reflects a low threat assessment. The same thing’s in Europe, there’s a low threat perception. The correction for that, I suppose, is an attack. And when that happens, then everyone gets energized for another [inaudible] and it’s a shame we don’t have the maturity to recognize the seriousness of the threats…the lethality, the carnage, that can be imposed on our society is so real and so present and so serious that you’d think we’d be able to understand it, but as a society, the longer you get away from 9/11, the less…the less…

Less than a week ago, the Department of Defense did a document dump on their program to use retired military analysts as surrogates on network and cable news to pimp the administration line on the Iraq War – something we now know they did on at least 4,500 occasions. Over at TalkingPointsMemo, a thread has been opened for those who want to sift through the material and highlight key discoveries.

So far, dedicated TPM readers have unearthed a number of noteworthy finds, of which this audio recording of this luncheon is perhaps the most astounding.

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‘Peel and Stick’ Tasers Electrify Riot Control

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008
May 13, 2008

Pretty soon, cops won’t just be packing stun guns.  They’ll be carrying electrically-charged riot shields, zapping the unruly without unholstering their weapons.  That is, if the folks at Taser International have their way.

The company just introduced the “Taser Shield Conversion Kit featuring the Taser Repel Laminate Film Technology.”

The kit “features a peel and stick perforated [f]ilm, power supply and necessary conversion equipment. This laminate becomes electrified providing a powerful deterrent to protect officers and keep suspects or rioters at bay.”  What could possibly go wrong?

Taser is demoing all kinds of gear this week  — from shock-inducing shotgun rounds to “area denial” zappers that can fry groups of people at once.  It’s all part of the Office of Law Enforcement Technology Commercialization’s Mock Prison Riot, a showcase for new police and correctional tech, held annually at on the grounds of the former West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville.  (David Axe covered the so-called “Rage in the Cage” for DANGER ROOM last year.)

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Canadian police have been brainwashed, Taser inquiry told

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

CBC News
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Crisis negotiator says stun guns should only be used as a last resort

Canadian law enforcement agencies have swallowed the propaganda of the company that manufactures Tasers, an expert testified Tuesday at a public inquiry in Vancouver examining police use of the weapons.

Dr. Michael Webster, a Vancouver-based psychologist who works as a consultant on crisis negotiation with various Canadian and U.S. law enforcement agencies, said he is embarrassed by the way Canadian officers have been using Tasers.

“I am embarrassed to be associated with organizations that Taser sick old men in hospital beds and confused immigrants arriving to the country. Frankly I find it embarrassing,” he said.

Officers are reaching for Tasers when communication and non-life threatening responses could do the trick, Webster testified. He told the inquiry there is only one situation where a Taser might be appropriate.

“That would be the last thing before you have to shoot somebody,” Webster testified.

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Unions take EI surplus fight to Supreme Court

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

CBC News
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Labour unions are appearing before the Supreme Court of Canada on Tuesday to argue the federal government has been improperly spending billions of surplus dollars in the unemployment insurance fund.

Brought by the Quebec-based labour union Confédération des syndicates nationaux (CSN), the unions’ argument is that the Employment Act fund shouldn’t go into general revenue and pay for things such as debt reduction. Doing so is unconstitutional, they argue.

Intervening in the case are the Canadian Labour Congress as well as the attorneys general of Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Ontario and Quebec.

They argue that the government has misused EI funds dating back to 1996, when the act was amended to make it more difficult to qualify for unemployment benefits. They call for the money to be used for employers and employees.

Auditor General Sheila Fraser has repeatedly slammed the government over its handling of EI since 1999, saying the surplus size is more than triple what would be deemed sufficient and the government is not observing the intent of EI.

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