SCRIPTed 2009: Internet and Security

Hold on for a rapid trip around the world this afternoon. I’ve focused on the presentations rather than the Q&A – sorry! Chaired by Burkhard Schafer (who is stuck chairing my session tomorrow too…)

  • Sara Smyth (Rochester Institute of Technology) on ‘Child pornography and the law in Canada’; this was the topic of her PhD and forthcoming book (U of T Press). Using Canada as a critical case study on circulation of CP materials; the broadest provisions in the world, but argues that a more narrowly focused provision combined with broad targeting of Internet circulation. ‘Global epidemic’ – but much of the regulatory approach is based on quick fixes. The Canadian law is contained in s 163.1 of the Criminal Code, and includes representations of u-18s as well as actual u-18s, and a wide range of materials (e.g. cartoons, written materials, morphed images, etc); Internet distribution (significant and popular due to privacy, anonymity and convenience) covered by the progression of this rather than the development of a new offence. ‘Moral panic‘ is a good conceptual framework. She discussed the (in)famous R v Sharpe on CP offences vs freedom of expression, reading in exceptions re privately held material. The subsequent amendments (Bill C-2) increased penalties (including mandatory minimum); Smyth argues that materials are circulating while the public desire for ‘justice’ has been satisfied by prosecutions of people like Sharpe, giving examples of R v Chin [2005] AJ No 1712, R v Austin [2006] BCK No 3430 and (missed the last one), and suggesting model legislation that would be more appropriate based on the harm, referring to images that reasonable person would consider indistinguishable from that of a real child (though contrast with Ashcroft v ACLU in the US re: ‘appears to be’). Finally, a model is presented of strategies (int’l co-operation: Canada should ratify the Cybercrime Convention, architectural innovation (interceptability in particular) and user regulation/self-help like INHOPE) that would be of benefit

  • Edinburgh alum Gerrit Hornung (Kassel) is looking at the ID card legislation (passed through parliament in 2009) in Germany. The backdrop is biometric passports and electronic signatures; why have a separate authentication function in ID cards? The approach under development is separating, in terms of the ID card (which includes RFID and biometrics – voluntary fingerprints), between governmental purposes, general authentication (free) and (with additional cost) voluntary signature functions. Constitutional requirements on data protection have been quite influential. User must give written consent to use ID card as electronic proof of identity, and service providers will need an authentication certificate (and to get it must prove legitimate purpose, proof of necessity). There will be application-specific attributes, and alternative information (e.g. being of age rather than specific age, being of a locality rather than actual place of residence). DP supervisory authority can revoke auth certificate or ID card. (Some great diagrams for this). Some practical uses: everything from online opening of bank account to age verification for adult services. It’s planned that services will be available from November 2010 – depends on all parts being present. Some unresolved questions include non-German providers, availability of RFID readers and the security of PINs.
  • Finally, Shizuka Abe & On-Kwok Lai turn to the age-old question of ageing. Ageing in Asia is catching up with N. America/EU. Lots and lots of fascinating (but rapid-fire) tables and graphs, reviewing social and demographic changes across Asian states. Some interesting points included: use of ICT in ‘caring relationship’ (e-medicine etc), the difference between Internet diffusion in countries and how this has an impact on behaviour, ownership of mobile phones and the requirement for ownership across generations in order to be a communicative tool, Imadaco and related GPS services (people-tracking!) and how they are framed by both developer and society, the intelligent pot (!) that tracks your tea-making habits. The common theme is the idea that the authors call ‘ICT-embedded filial piety’, with a zeitgeisty reference to current financial crisis and the need for ‘pro-growth development’ in areas like this; the conclusion is that the use of technologies reinforces face-to-face communication and is also quite local despite the use of ‘global technologies’, and ultimately holds the potential of facilitating ‘inter-generational dynamics’.

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