SYMPATICO IS WATCHING

3. August 2006, 16:22 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

In a recent change in it’s service agreement, Bell/Sympatico, arguably Canada’s largest ISP, stated that it would be monitoring customers’ on-line activities for possible reporting to government agencies. Understandably this has raised concerns over privacy and dubious data use.

The new Terms Of Service, which went into effect on June 15th, notified users that Sympatico “reserves the right from time to time to monitor the Servic electronically, monitor or investigate content or the use of the Service Provider’s neteworks.”. The company went on to say that it would “disclose any information necessary to satisfy laws, regulations or other government request”.

This is the sort of Orwellian activities so many privacy advocates are worried about - and to which the public seems totally oblivious, probably due to lack of knowledge and the fact that most people never really bother reading the terms under which they sign up for services. This ties in with my previous article It’s MY Content.

What makes this so disquieting, is that there are already laws on the books, and available for enforcement that with court order make provision for the monitoring or collection of data from an individual’s on-line activities. While Sympatico has indicated that it collaborates with law enforecment “only when presented with legitimate court ordered warrants”, one has to then wonder why the provision in the terms of or other government request. I, and others, have to wonder what their reaction will be if CSIS or CSE come knocking. Though in the case of the latter, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover they already have access.

Being built into the customer agreement, it is not something you can opt out of either. Not if you want internet service. Switching ISP’s probably won’t help as they all will likely move to such agreements - especially as it filters down from backbone providers to the smaller companies.

While no one has objections with cooperating with legitimate law enforcement, all too often, especially when broadly and vaguely implemented, such policies lend themselves to abuse and the often deliberate bluring of authority between legitimate law enforcement and general information gathering by other groups and agencies.

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Categories: ,
Keywords: Sympatico,privacy,monitoring,governemtn agencies,law enforcement

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