Posted January 6, 2015 by TopDog in Articles

Protect your Privacy under Canada’s new copyright law

The Copyright Modernization act (which went into effect 1/1/2015) has sent many privacy conscious Canadians in search of a suitable solution to protect their privacy from monitoring and warrantless searches.

Even though the Copyright Modernization Act primarily deals with digital property rights, it has far reaching consequences for all Canadians who use the internet, even ones who have never used popular file-sharing software like BitTorrent or Limewire.

As a result of the bill, all Canadian based Internet Providers are now required to keep logs of subscriber internet activity for a minimum of six months.

Privacy Concerns of the new legislation

The bill also requires ISP’s to keep records of digital rights infringement notices against subscribers for the same length of time. It also requires ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) to forward the notices of alleged infringers, without any further verification or validation of the infringement claims by a governmental body.

This has created fears that the American model of copyright trolling may make it’s way to Canada. The general ‘business plan’ of these trolls is to threaten alleged infringers with lawsuit damages in the thousands of dollars, or they can choose to settle for a ‘reasonable price’ and avoid costly attorney fees. A major concern, of course, is that this lopsided risk-reward ratio causes many innocent citizens to pay the extortion settlement just to avoid the legal headache and expense of maintaining their innocence.

More Monitoring = Less Privacy

The new law requires at minimum that ISP’s keep logs of all IP addresses (a unique numeric internet address) assigned to each customers’ network for 6 months, but amount of data monitoring could be well in excess of that.

For example, nearly all ISP’s by default try to force users their own DNS servers (this is how your computer translates a domain name (google.com) into a physical server location to retrieve the web page). These servers also log the IP address you access them with, so by extension, every web address you type into your browser may be temporarily (or permanently) recorded and stored in a data file associated with your internet account.

Fortunately, there is a simple, legal solution to protect yourself from this dramatic loss of internet privacy…

Thousands of Canadians are now turning to VPN technology to protect their privacy online.

What is a VPN

In simple terms, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a connection between your computer and a remote server, between which all transferred data is encrypted.

This has two distinct benefits:

  1. Your VPN provider assigns you a new IP address (other than the one assigned to you by your ISP). This new IP address is the only one visible to websites you visit online (and invisible to your ISP)
  2. Since all data between your computer and the VPN server is encrypted, even your ISP (Internet Provider) cannot read, monitor, or log your data or record the websites that you visit.

Though this technology sounds quite complicated (the cryptography involved is actually quite sophisticated) it is extremely easy to use for the consumer. This is because nearly all VPN providers offer easy to use desktop (and often mobile) VPN software that usually makes connecting to the VPN server as simple as 1-click. It’s set-it-and-forget-it. It just plain works!

What are the benefits of VPN? Who needs VPN?

Thanks to increasing consumer demand, VPN technology is now extremely affordable (usually priced between $4-$10 per month). Nearly all internet users would benefit from the increased security provided by a VPN (imagine having all your transferred data and login information protected by military-grade security).

There are several groups of Canadian users with whom VPN usage is extremely popular:

People who use public wifi networks

Canada is a great place for internet users because of the widespread availability of free public internet access, but there is a big downside to these unprotected networks…you don’t know who you’re sharing them with. Since data sent over public wifi is unencrypted, literally anyone in the surrounding area with the proper know-how can literally see your data, possibly even stealing usernames/passwords or even accessing your computer/smartphone directly through the shared wifi hotspot.

A VPN encrypts all data, even on unsecured networks meaning that even if a hacker can access the data you transmit wirelessly, they will be unable to read it (strong VPN encryption is unbreakable by brute force attacks)

For suggestions on some great VPN providers to consider, check out our top VPN picks.

BitTorrent users / File-Sharers

A 2011 academic study found that 15% of bittorrent users in the USA were using an anonymization service like a VPN. With the explosive growth of VPN technology over the past 4 years, I’d wager that percentage has at least doubled, meaning 1 in 3 bittorrent users may be using a VPN. This is much much higher percentage than internet users as a whole.

The reasons torrent downloaders find VPNs so appealing is they fix the two weak points in the structure of bittorrent file-sharing technology.

Weak point #1 – When participating in a torrent swarm, your IP address is visible to all other peers in that swarm (could be 100,000+ in large swarms). Because a VPN changes the IP address that appears in the swarm to one that is not directly associated with your internet connection, users can quickly become much more anonymous.

This anonymity can be even greater if choosing a non-logging VPN provider. This means that there is absolutely no recorded link between your true IP address and the one assigned to you by the VPN.

Weak point #2 – Your ISP can tell you’re using bittorrent/what files you download

Since your Internet Provider has full access to your data stream, they can tell whether a subscriber is using bittorrent, and even read the hash file that identifies specific torrent files.

Because a VPN encrypts your data, your ISP will not be able to tell what you’re doing online, what files you download, or what sites you visit. Even though your data goes through their network, the encryption makes it unreadable.

Here’s our favorite VPN’s for bittorrent users.

Privacy Conscious Canadians

Just because you never use file-sharing networks doesn’t mean you want your online activity being tracked, recorded, and stored for indefinite lengths of time. A VPN dramatically increases your online security, online identity footprint, and privacy.

For more information on the benefits of VPN, check out this article, or if you’re looking for a recommendation, here’s our top VPN provider of 2014, or you can just read our reviews yourself.