Archive 6 min read

Law and The Internet

How much can one jurisdiction affect the internet? Turns out, a lot. Recent actions by the US and Australia are having and could have a disproportionate impact on our online communities.

Law and The Internet

Watch this episode on YouTube.

Reasonably Accurate 馃馃 Transcript

Morning everybody. How you doing today? Um Just a quick one today. I wanted to talk about um a couple issues that have been on my mind because it actually somewhat came up in a radio interview that I did yesterday. Not really, but enough that it's worth diving into. And I mentioned it last week on the show um in passing.

Um but there's been more feedback. So I want to talk about um three laws that have been passed that are having a direct impact on how we use the internet even though we may not be in the countries where the laws were passed. And that's really the the key topic today.

So Australia passed a law around um arguably an anti encryption bill and essentially what it does is um provides the ability for Australian law enforcement to require um with a technical notice to require application providers, service providers to go above and beyond, to provide lawful access above and beyond.

To the point where installing and changing the system to accommodate law enforcement is quite possible. Um Now I'm a huge like I'm a supporter of lawful access in the proper context with the proper oversight within the proper scope. The problem with this bill, um among many sort of cutting it down to the gist is that um along with the technical notice saying you need to break your encryption in order to allow lawful access here, um There's also an automatic gag order.

So we have uh one particular government who can theoretically force um service providers to break the security and weaken the security of their overall system and not tell anybody about it so that we are making risk decisions based on a certain assessment. That is no longer true because we have no ability to actually verify.

Um Now that's a huge challenge. The second bill that I want to talk about is the second set of bills are in the US. Um fo A and CE A. Um these are the short forms and basically, there are two bills that look at trying to make it harder um or make it easier, I should say for law enforcement to crack down on um sex trafficking and child endangerment, fantastic efforts, horrible implementation because essentially this is what's behind Tumblr flagging.

Everything is um not suitable for work and taking it down. This is behind um Facebook's recent and will be increasing up until January 1st 2019 efforts to remove things that are just adult conversation, not adult, like explicit, but you know, adults talking about body parts, about bodily functions, about biological functions.

Um And again, this comes down to um good intentions behind the bill, just like the Australian bill. Nobody's buying um anything malicious here but outweighed um impacts and the challenge really we get. I don't, obviously, I'm not a lawyer thankfully, um I don't have the nuance in each of the bills, but I can tell you the overall impact is that we have two nations that are having a disproportionate impact on how we um conduct a business, how we can communicate online.

And I find anytime I dig into the surfaces below the surface of these issues, it's the same thing, time and time again. And that's um people with good intentions uh trying to wade through something that's in orderly complex, something that's way, technically uh technically difficult and way above their heads and they come up with bad results because there's logging on either side and people try to, uh you know, back door um different agendas and things like that.

And the challenge we get though is that the internet is global. So when somebody makes a decision, sometimes we can pass that off and not worry about it. Um But others have to pay for that or have to deal with it. So if we take the Australian law, I'm not Australian, you odds are you're probably not Australian.

But if a company offers services in Australia, they're potentially going to be impacted by this law in Canada. We have agreements with Australia. They are a good partner and close ally, same with the States. And so there are impacts there. And you know, the question is, if a company has offices in Australia, obviously they're going to comply with Australian law if they don't, but offer services in Australia, are they still gonna be applicable?

Is the law still gonna be applicable? It's probably applicable, but is it enforceable? That's a whole another question. Um The US foster insta is a little more widely impacting because there's a lot of the technology companies um coming to you over, you know, either Twitter or youtube or, you know, on the podcast, probably you are getting access to this content through an American channel.

So they have a far more direct sort of, you know, thumb on the, on the scales. Um But I think that it's, it's really interesting stuff. I'll just do a quick little uh screen share here for you um to show you uh this. Um So this is a great article on techcrunch um looking at the um encryption impact for Australia.

Um So we, you know, uh it's, there's a group of tech companies that have gotten together um that uh so Apple Google Microsoft, a bunch of others who had formed together in the wake of the stone disclosure um to uh actually, you know, uh lobby uh or come out against this bill that was passed in the, in the Aussie Parliament.

Um and has in fact become law um and then other folks like linkedin and Evernote and Snap have jumped on board, same with Cisco and, and Mozilla. Um So, you know, the technology companies are, are going against this from purely practical perspective for them because it's going to be very difficult.

They, they're going to need to stop offering service in Australia, not something anyone wants. And they're gonna have to segment off a piece of their technology which is extremely difficult or they're going to have to figure out a way to do this without significantly impacting all of their users.

Um On the flip side, uh team vogue, oddly enough, they still do some fantastic reporting. Um Has this great piece on um uh on Tumblr uh talking about uh the porn band. Um And uh it's Genesis from Foster and CTA um really interesting to see the direct impacts because Tumblr has been taking stuff down left, right and center.

Um And I think that's really important because it shows you uh those impacts time and time again. So um I'll tweet out those links so that everybody can see them. But again, this is just, I think a fast issue. So, um you know, we live in a global connected internet um to see how that impacts people left, right and center, uh you know, is a, is a fascinating thing to sort of dive into to see.

OK, if one community is pushing a certain way and has a law behind it. How does that impact the rest of them? My biggest concern around encryption, my biggest concern around, um, uh, you know, uh any sort of things like foster is that it will weaken privacy or weakened security controls in place for um, valid reasons.

Um, and I always find it's really difficult because those are really sensitive topics and politically they're hot button issues. People don't apply the proper objectivity and the proper distance to go like, hey, wait a minute, this is disproportionate to the threat. Here's a more reasoned response. Um, I don't know what those reasons response are but just something to think about today.

Um, the deep thoughts for a Tuesday, um, maybe because it's snowing here. Uh, and, you know, we're fully into December. Um, so, uh, you know, give you something, uh, grab a Coco kind of wrap your head around this, read out the articles and see what you think. Let me know online at Mark NC.

A fill in the vlogs in the comment down below. And as always by email me at Mark N dot C A, look forward to chatting with you about this and any other topic online. Um, and I will see you on the show later this week. Have a good one.

Read next