no privacy right in identity linked to ip address

The Ontario Court of Appeal released its decision in R v. Ward earlier today. The case involved the conviction of a worthless low-life pedophile by the name of David Ward.

The police were able to find him due, in part, by tracking down his IP address and asking his ISP to provide the identity of the customer using the IP address at the time. His ISP did so voluntarily, even though the police did not have a search warrant. The appeal focused on whether or not he had been subject to unreasonable search and seizure, in violation of the the Charter of Rights, and whether or not he had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The Court of Appeal’s decision concluded that the disclosure of this information by the ISP to the police did not violate his Charter  rights nor was there, nor should there have been, a reasonable expectation of privacy.

While my personal sentiments in respect of Mr. Ward would be that I could care less if he rotted in a jail cell for the rest of his days, the ends, as they say, do not always justify the means. And if the law is to be applied equally to everyone, I do believe there are some rather disconcerting implications regarding the conclusions in this case, notwithstanding the court’s attempt to put a ring fence around its application.

No time for the detailed analysis right now but it will be forthcoming. In the meantime, I encourage you to read the case – what do you think?

“Anonymized” data really isn’t—and here’s why not – Ars Technica

You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.

So spoke Scott McNealy more than a decade ago. At the time he made this statement, he received a fair amount of criticism. Turns out, he might very well have had a point, though perhaps for reasons he might not have foreseen.

A recent paper highlights the issue of the “reidentification” or “deanonymization” of anonymized personal information. However, the issue goes beyond anonymized information to the very heart how one should define personal information that is or should be protected under privacy legislation.

“Anonymized” data really isn’t—and here’s why not – Ars Technica.

Canadian privacy legislation simply defines personal information as “information about an identifiable individual” (excluding certain information about someone in their capacity as an employee). However, what does “about an identifiable individual” mean? Does it mean that the person collecting the particular nugget of information can associate it with a person’s identity? Or, perhaps more disconcertingly, does it include data that has the potential to be associated with someone by analyzing that particular bit of information, which alone (or even in conjunction with all the other information collected by a given organization) could not be linked with a particular individual, with information available from other sources?


Interesting article on Techcrunch about a company called Rapleaf. The nub:

Rapleaf will allow anyone to leave feedback for anyone they’ve transacted with. Others can use this feedback to help them determine if they are doing business with someone who’d likely to engage in fraud. Rapleaf is eBay feedback for the rest of the web, and the offline world.

Very interesting idea. Of course, there have been various solutions that people have tried to address the curse (and perhaps sometimes blessing) that, on the internet, no one knows if you’re a dog. I always thought encryption and the whole public key infrastructure thing would go somewhere, you know, with PGP and all being used, then of course the various bodies around the world setting up certification authorities, and then related legislation, etc. etc. That could have solved a lot of problems, including, amongst others, spam. And of course fraud. Surprisingly enough it never got off the ground all that well and in its stead we find reputational markers such as this.

Interesting how the internet has enabled the scaling of these sorts of reputational mechanisms. Where it was once a couple of neighbours chatting about the best butcher, its now millions of folks spread across dozens of countries having their opinions on thousands (or more) vendors. Talk about network effects.