Category: Compliance

09 Nov 2018
Get ready for PIPEDA

Are You Prepared for Canada’s Mandatory Breach Reporting Law?

With the introduction of new rules under Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), saying sorry for a data breach is no longer good enough. As of November 2018, all data breaches involving Canadian data of a personal nature must be reported and affected parties must be notified.

But who does PIPEDA apply to?

PIPEDA is Canada’s federal privacy law for private-sector organizations. In a nutshell, this law applies to all personal data collected, used or disclosed in the course of commercial activity when doing business with Canada. Under the new data breach rules, if any of this personal data is leaked, a report must be filed with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, a record of the breach must be created, and all individuals affected by the breach need to be notified that their information has been compromised.

Following Europe’s privacy protective lead

The updates to PIPEDA comes on the heels of the European Union’s GDPR – which launched last May. While existing Canadian data privacy protection practices do satisfy current GDPR demands, these additional rules serve as a proactive reassurance as European rules continue to harden over the next few years. They are also designed to help keep Canadian businesses competitive in Europe – and avoid massive fines.

And these new changes to PIPEDA don’t come without teeth!

In addition to brand damage, and the potential for lawsuits, violations to PIPEDA now carry serious fines of up to $100,000. While not as high as the devastating multi-million-dollar fines of the GDPR, the penalties are high enough to enforce compliance.

So how do you stay compliant?

Adequate protection of sensitive personal data is easier said than done – often requiring a multi-pronged approach. In order to comply with new PIPEDA rules, you need to take proactive steps to help prevent a breach from occurring in the first place – this includes protecting data leaving your system. And encryption of sensitive data is a key indicator demonstrating that information has been adequately protected under any privacy regulation or law.

Here are 10 ways you can secure sensitive data in transit.

By Alex Loo, VP of Operations at Echoworx

13 Sep 2018
What is a Chief Data Officer

What is a Chief Data Officer?

We live in a post-privacy age.

Our location can be pinpointed with GPS. Our photos and itineraries are known to the world, through our smartphones connected to the internet. We post our most intimate thoughts and opinions to social media for all to see. We browse targeted advertising based on our Google searches and online buying habits.

Tom Goodwin, head of innovation at Zenith Media, argues that we welcome this loss of privacy because we enjoy the benefits it affords us… right up until a company fails to protect our data.[i] Then we are up in arms about the violation of our privacy. It is the stuff of public relations nightmares.

At Echoworx, our own research finds another data privacy conundrum: the transformative nature of personal data after a breach. People are willing to disclose quantitative data, under the assumption it is protected. This same data takes on embarrassing qualitative characteristics once it becomes public during a breach – leading to a fatal loss of customer trust.

How are businesses to navigate these contradictions? How can businesses offer people the benefits of the post-privacy age without making them feel they’ve surrendered something precious? How can businesses gain the confidence to securely protect sensitive data?

One solution is found in the growing importance of the Chief Data Officer.

Rise of the Chief Data Officer

The Chief Data Officer role was born during the 2008-09 financial crisis. In the aftermath, there was a clear need for a person who could ensure compliance with increased regulatory demands. More than ever in banking and finance, data and its reporting to regulators required greater scrutiny. For years, data had been an afterthought in most organizations. Had available data been managed effectively at the time, we might have had warning of the crisis, or been able to make a more complete recovery.

In the decade since, however, the role of the CDO has expanded and evolved as the era of Big Data dawned. Suddenly the value of data as an asset became clear. The CDO was needed to take charge of maximizing its value.

In 2012, the advisory firm NewVantage Partners began an annual survey of Fortune-1000 c-executives. That first year, only 12% of firms had a CDO. By 2018, that number had risen to 63.4%. This trend looks set to continue. By some estimates, a Chief Data Officer will be considered a “mission-critical” role in up to 75% of large enterprises within the next 3-5 years. Even the Pentagon has hired its first CDO!

Why you need a Chief Data Officer

The CDO’s chief value today is as the point-person for optimizing the vast amounts of data generated by today’s companies. He or she can extract value from it, and foster innovation around Big Data and analytics. The CDO drives technology solutions, enhances cybersecurity and increase revenues. He or she works to eliminate data siloes and redundancies. Technological change is managed to reduce the costs of “data wrangling” within a company.

The CDO plans and executes corporate strategy around emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and blockchain. The CDO also represents an agile solution to the fast-moving developments in regulation and data privacy for which traditional management may not be well suited. As technology evolves, so too does the CDO role.

Privacy vs value in a post-privacy world

Data is a double-edged sword. It holds tremendous value for corporations. It also demands careful stewardship of information entrusted to them and promises liabilities (both financial and reputational) in the event of a breach.

By bringing all data and related activity under the CDO, organizations can establish systems to ensure that all data gathered by, stored, or shared within an organization is treated securely, ethically, and in compliance with local and international laws and regulations.[ii] Proper data management and careful application of security measures, such as enhanced encryption of sensitive data, can help reduce enterprise risk. These policies also allow companies to maximize value from the data they collect.

In this post-privacy era, corporations that interact with sensitive customer data must adapt if they want to be successful. If they focus on “serving people better” with explicit requests for permission, clear opt-ins, rigorous security and encryption, they can build a “value exchange over a lifetime” with customers. This is the kind of transformation that the CDO can bring to organizations. In this way, the CDO helps navigate the line between privacy and post-privacy in a connected world.

By Alex Loo, VP of Operations, Echoworx





16 Jul 2018
California Consumer Privacy

California’s Data Privacy Law, AB 375: It’s Personal

Last week, California passed one of the most advanced privacy laws in the United States, The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018. It is being hailed as a major step forward with comparisons such as “GDPR comes to America” and other such headlines.

Upon review, the California act has several challenges, not least of which is that it is not slated to go into affect till 2020, and the many big tech companies that are already lining up to try to get legislators to change provisions of the law.

What is in the law

The law establishes a few new rights for Californian residents, and like the GDPR in Europe, applies to any business that sells to or has personal data on California Residents.

These new rights are:

1. The right of Californians to know what personal information is being collected about them.

2. The right of Californians to know whether their personal information is sold or disclosed and to whom.

3. The right of Californians to say no to the sale of personal information.

4. The right of Californians to access their personal information.

5. The right of Californians to equal service and price, even if they exercise their privacy rights.

In short, it gives Californians a way to opt out of almost all secondary uses of their data whether that be aggregated sale to data brokers, tracking, or other uses not directly tied to the provision of a service.

What is not in the law

While the law does have penalties for breaches that result from not adequately protecting information, this law itself does not contain any requirements for how businesses need to protect information, or language to guide a court is analyzing if protection was adequate.

Impact on market

Unlike the European General Data Protection Regulation, The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 does not contain specific requirements for businesses to follow to ensure the Security of Processing.  The Act does prescribe how businesses are to get consent for collecting and using information, and that they can not discriminate against consumers for exercising their rights.

The California Consumer Privacy Act relies heavily on other California and Federal laws to provide guidance on these areas.  There are a number of conflicts with these other laws and areas that would likely need to be clarified through regulatory guidance, or possible changes to the law.

Additionally, there are still a number of questions about how the Act might be amended under pressure from tech companies and privacy advocates, and what regulations might be published to support the Act.

Overall, the exact nature of a business’s obligations will not be known for some time.

A logical solution

Encryption of sensitive data is key to demonstrating that information has been adequately protected under any privacy regulation or law.

Echoworx is committed to meeting the privacy and legal requirements of the countries in which it operates. Echoworx continues to add data centers around the world to ensure that data is resident as close as possible to the country or region of origin. We currently operate data centers in the US, UK, Ireland, Mexico, and Canada to ensure data can be stored and maintained in accordance with the regulations and legislation that our customers are subject to.

The role of Information Security is certainly changing. Join me and my colleagues for a live discussion, Thursday July 26th, on how this Act and othe new data privacy regulations will affect business globally. A Perfect Union: Privacy, Security and What You Need to Know About Both | 10 AM ET

By David Broad CISSP, Information Security and Audit Lead, Echoworx

10 Apr 2018
Cloud Act

Quiet before the storm: CLOUD act

Recent developments in the court case between the US Government and Microsoft have impacts to companies offering services globally.   The Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (CLOUD Act) aims to simplify the way enforcement groups obtain personal data stored by U.S.- based technology companies.

What Has Happened:

In December 2013, a United States Magistrate Judge issued a warrant under the authority of the Stored Communications Act (SCA) to Microsoft for production of data that was hosted at a Microsoft Data Centre in Ireland.   Microsoft refused to comply with the parts of the order that required production from their Ireland Data Centre based on the warrant violating European Law.

Microsoft appealed the decision to the US Second Circuit court which received submissions in support of Microsoft from various parties.  The Irish Government submitted a brief stating that the warrant violated the European Union’s Data Protection Directive, Ireland’s own Privacy Laws, and that the US Government should have used the longstanding Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the US and Ireland which allows for the collection of data supported by local warrants.  The US Second Circuit found in favour of Microsoft and the US Department of Justice appealed to the Supreme Court.

Oral Arguments on the case were heard on Feb 27th.  However, in March, the US Congress Passed, and the President signed the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (CLOUD Act).  This law amended the SCA to make it a requirement that US based service providers must turn over data that is in their possession regardless of where in the world the data is located.  Based on this development, the US Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the case as moot and Microsoft did not oppose.

Even prior to this decision, there had been significant questions raised with respect to US Government Access to data on citizens in other countries.  The Article 29 Working Group had released a report calling into question if the US was adhering to the requirements of the US/EU Privacy Shield agreements. In the report they recommended that new negotiations between the US and EU begin to develop a plan to close a few identified gaps.   They Working Group warned that if action was not taken, they would take the issue to court to have the Privacy Shield agreement invalidated.

Impact on Market:

This is all happening in the context of the coming into force of the EU General Data Protection regulation which has strict requirements on companies who deal with the data of EU residents.  Specifically, Article 48 of the EU General Data Protection Regulation states that:

 Any judgment of a court or tribunal and any decision of an administrative authority of a third country requiring a controller or processor to transfer or disclose personal data may only be recognised or enforceable in any manner if based on an international agreement, such as a mutual legal assistance treaty, in force between the requesting third country and the Union or a Member State, without prejudice to other grounds for transfer pursuant to this Chapter.

 This directly contradicts the requirements of the CLOUD Act which directly override the need to use the MLAT approach.

Naturally, this leaves many questions as to who’s laws are more relevant, the status of previously agreed treaties and agreements, and a few other questions. It is also likely to have a significant impact on US companies as subscribers move to cloud service providers in their local jurisdictions – or at least those in jurisdictions that do not have such legal entanglements.

Echoworx is a Canadian based company, and current Canadian law requires the use of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) when that data is stored in a foreign country. Echoworx is also committed to meeting the privacy and legal requirements of the countries in which it operates. Echoworx continues to add data centres around the world to ensure that data is resident as close as possible to the country or region of origin. We currently operate data centres in the US, UK, Ireland, Mexico, and Canada to ensure data can be stored and maintained in accordance with the regulations and legislation that our customers are subject to.

By David Broad CISSP, Information Security and Audit Lead, Echoworx

07 Mar 2018

Encryption, helping address GDPR compliance

As of May 25, 2018, all companies dealing with personal data in the European Union (EU) must be employing a high level of security to safeguard EU citizens’ information. Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), companies that aren’t taking adequate measures in protecting the data of those residing in the 28 EU countries (prior to Brexit) face fines of up to 20 million euros ($21.9 million) or 4 percent of a company’s global annual revenue. Regulatory authorities will have greater powers to act against businesses that don’t comply.

GDPR sets the baseline

David Broad, Information Security and Audit Lead for Echoworx, says the GDPR sets the baseline for how companies must protect their own information and that of their clients’. The baseline security practices must also be consistent with any third party service the company uses (such as Amazon), even if the company is located outside the EU. Regulations across the EU “used to be a fairly wide patchwork,” says Broad, and the GDPR will harmonize those rules. The EU has always had stringent regulations, but there were significant problems if a company was doing business in multiple countries as rules could differ in each.

“It was seen by many as a disadvantage, and an impediment to business,” says Broad. “Now, there will be one standard everyone understands and knows.”

A logical solution

Encryption is a logical solution for these companies and while it’s not mandatory or the only solution, the GDPR encourages its use as a best practice to protect sensitive information from breaches. Increasingly, encryption is viewed as the go-to method to protect communications in transit and to safeguard stored information, according to Jacob Ginsberg, Senior Director with Echoworx.

Ginsberg says companies are recognizing the importance of encryption and security in thwarting cyberattacks and data breaches and utilizing it. The GDPR encourages the idea of security and privacy by design from the early stages of development, he says. Those two aspects – privacy and security – were not always working in conjunction with each other and the GDPR will help to align them. Encryption can play a role in aligning these aspects.

The importance of encryption

Protecting information in transit – whether through email or large file exchange – can be a challenge for some organizations, as they may not control the network or the email server, and the server may not even be in the EU, says Broad.

“You can’t just send customer data over a network you don’t have control of,” he says. An organization may use some form of encryption for data in transit, or opt not to send encrypted data by email. Instead, it could send a benign message to a client telling the client to log in to the company portal to retrieve the pertinent information.

Not every company wants to build a portal due to the heavy investment in technology required, or because they may not need it all the time. For example, some companies may only need a portal for a short time each year – such as to receive annual tax documents.

Just as Amazon provides e-commerce solutions for sellers who don’t want to deal with logistics, payments, hardware and data storage, encryption providers such as Echoworx can help companies comply with the GDPR by providing encryption solutions and services to help customers protect important data.

Let’s connect
My colleagues will be at the IdentityNorth Annual Summit at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, Canada this June. If you plan to be in town, come meet the Echoworx team. We will be presenting real use cases of how organizations are gaining value by integrating encryption into their business processes, while securing communications. Register today, join us for a chat!

By Christian Peel, ‎VP Customer Engineering, Echoworx

14 Sep 2017
Echoworx | Email Encryption Solutions | GDPR: Reduce your risk, protect your customers

GDPR: Reduce your risk, protect your customers

You’ve met the GDPR, but you could still be breached, and the fines are massive. How can you minimize the risk?

By May 25, 2018, companies doing business with EU residents must meet General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards or risk fines as high as 20 million euros or 4 percent of their annual worldwide profits. But even if your company meets the Regulation, hackers will keep trying to get at your data, and if they’re successful, you could face class-action lawsuits and the destruction of hard-won consumer trust.

And you could still face GDPR fines.

The news is full of good reasons for consumer distrust, such as the 2017 Equifax breach when 143 million records were stolen, including social security numbers linked to them. But if you can show that you have taken every possible step to protect the people who rely on you, the courts and your customers are more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt.

Encryption is an obvious step, and it is part of GDPR, so under the Regulation, you must convert your data into a coded, difficult-to-unlock format that maintains authentication, integrity and non-repudiation. But you also need to implement data minimization and de-identification.

In simple terms, data minimization means that you don’t ask for or keep more than you need, while de-identification temporarily removes links between the data points and the individuals they describe.

  1. Data minimization

With so much personal data available, it may be tempting to collect and cross-reference new information to learn more about your customers. But consumers don’t like it, and are increasingly suspicious of sharing their details. So while a next-of-kin’s name and phone number on a financial services account could help verify family if the account holder dies, asking for the relative’s workplace data may be going too far. And you’re definitely crossing the line if you use any of the data for a purpose that the customer hasn’t agreed to.

The GDPR explicitly states that you need to limit the amount of data you collect, as well as the way you use it. It also says that you can only use the data for its specified, lawful purpose, and stresses the importance of having a plan to destroy the information once the agreed-upon use is finished.

And frankly, less data means you have less to steal.

  1. De-identification

Your institution might need to have some data linked directly to individuals’ names in some instances, for example, keeping names, account numbers and addresses together for account-statement generation. However, other work clusters will not need identifying information, but may need to be able to link it back later.

De-identification is different from anonymization; the information is still linked, but steps are taken to mask it. This can include giving people pseudonyms, plus “k-anonymization”, which hides or replaces details that could expose an identity, such as a birth date.

As a part of encryption, de-identification makes it that much harder for hackers to make use of stolen information.

The rewards of minimizing risk

While it’s EU law, complying with the GDPR has value no matter where your company does business. Meeting these standards, minimizing your data collection and ensuring de-identification will help you protect your reputation, add reasons for your customers to trust you, and reduce your overall risk.

Want to learn more?  Click on the link below to watch an in-depth discussion with the Privacy by Design creator Dr. Ann Cavoukian, and know how you can prepare for the GDPR. 

 By Alex Loo, VP Operations, Echoworx

08 Sep 2017
Echoworx | Email Encryption Solutions | Privacy by Design - or by Disaster?

Privacy by Design – or by Disaster?

Got any European business? If you do, the GDPR could trigger fines of 20 million euros against you after May 25, 2018, unless you’ve built the highest levels of privacy protections into your systems.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) protects individuals’ privacy and human rights, and comes into effect in May. It applies to EU-based companies, plus overseas companies doing business in the EU. The scope covers a broad range of personal data, for example, names, email addresses, social media, bank details or computer IP addresses.

For companies that don’t meet the GDPR, there are fines as high as 20 million euros or up to 4 percent of your annual worldwide profits – a big bite out of your bottom line. The good news is that there is a directive to guide you, known as Privacy by Design, or “PbD”.

Privacy by Design
Meeting GDPR means following the seven PbD principles that are included almost verbatim in the regulation.

  1. Proactive not reactive; preventative not remedial Think of this as “privacy by design or disaster.” If you build appropriate privacy, encryption and overall cybersecurity into your products and services, you’re less likely to have the disaster-side breach that means fines, class-action lawsuits, and damage to your reputation.
  1. Privacy as the default setting Most people don’t read EULAs or the lengthy legal documents from financial institutions. Make your offerings easier to use by defaulting to the highest levels of privacy and encryption, and ask clearly for specific permission to use the customer’s data for anything other than what they intend. For example, keep opt-in boxes empty so the distracted end-user doesn’t give permission by accident.
  1. Privacy embedded into design How well are your apps and data-management systems encrypted? This needs to be a default, no-choice, built-in fact of all of your data architecture.
  1. Full functionality – positive-sum, not zero-sum There’s an argument that full security and full privacy are not compatible, but it’s wrong – strong encryption lets you have both. What’s more, when your clients and customers know you’re using it, they’ll have a higher level of trust for you, and be more willing to share their data.
  1. End-to-end security – full lifecycle protection With your system designed to respect and maintain privacy at every touch, what happens when you’re done with the data? From the moment a customer gives their name, to the closing of the account, you need to ensure their data is securely managed, and eventually, destroyed.
  1. Visibility and transparency – keep it open Be able to demonstrate that you are using the data as it’s intended at every step. But you also need to be willing to share all the data you’ve collected about someone with that individual, because the data belongs to them. And being able to see it means they can correct inaccuracies, making it much more useful to you.
  1. Respect for user privacy – keep it user-centric Being user-centric means that your company and data architects are proactive about protecting customer privacy. But incorporating strong data encryption and overall cybersecurity isn’t just about being safe. The investment in these technologies and practices will foster the respect and trust of your customers, which is a good thing no matter where you do business.

Still have questions? Watch our webinar, along with Privacy by Design creator Dr. Ann Cavoukian, for an in-depth understanding on how to prepare for the GDPR. 

 By Alex Loo, VP Operations, Echoworx

14 Mar 2017
Echoworx | Email Encryption Solutions | GDPR: Will You Weather the Security Storm? 1

GDPR: Will You Weather the Security Storm?

You would think that simple and secure communication with employees and customers would be top of any financial services firm’s checklist, wouldn’t you? That the need for confidentiality and regulatory compliance had never been greater? Especially given that financial data has been among the most commonly exposed and stolen in recent breaches. Think again! Our survey last year found that despite 83 per cent of financial services professionals using email more than any other form of communication, 23 per cent either do not use or are unaware of any email and file sharing encryption technology in place.


It’s time for businesses to batten down the hatches, because the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is coming and businesses are worried about its impact. The European Commission has passed new pan-region regulations, which will come into force in April 2018. Businesses that don’t comply with the new laws could face fines of €20 million or four per cent of global turnover – whichever is greater. Fines of this level will have a significant impact on any business. You only have to look at the costs incurred by TalkTalk following its high profile data breach last year (£60 million and counting, and a considerable loss of customers) – and you can see fines like this keeping the CFO awake at night.

We hosted a roundtable event for CIOs and CISOs of financial services companies. Most admitted that they knew something needed to be done about GDPR compliance, but they didn’t know where to start. It was clear from talking to these senior financial services industry figures that companies are wholly aware of the threat posed by cyber attackers and hackers. They have already taken action against it. However, the pressure to reduce costs is a struggle felt by all. Research by TheCityUK Cyber Taskforce (p.11) found that 46 per cent of companies have cyber threats as a key concern to their business, compared to just 10 per cent in the same survey a year earlier.


It’s not just internal email that needs to be covered by the right level of security. External communication with customers need security measures too. Stories of cybercrime and data breaches continue to hit the headlines daily, while consumers are more technically and security savvy than ever. In fact, a recent survey by the US Dept of Commerce found that, 45 per cent of consumers reported that cybersecurity concerns stopped them from conducting financial transactions online.

Financial services organisations should have strong encryption solutions in place that are both manageable for the business and meet the needs and expectations of customers. Banks have continued to resist because they think it is too complicated. Many argue that customers won’t understand how to use more complex security solutions. This simply isn’t an excuse any more. There are plenty of options on the market that have put user experience at the centre. A valuable email encryption solution makes the process simple for both sender and recipient.


The cost of a data breach to a financial services organisation goes far beyond just financial considerations (although with the prospect of huge fines looming as part of the GDPR – it’s certainly a substantial worry). Reduction in customer confidence and reputation damage are an equally expensive contributing factor. For a long time, FS companies have upped their security precautions at the perimeter of their businesses. Now they need to extend this protection to their customers as well. Issues like TalkTalk breach, along with new government powers to snoop in the form of the Investigatory Powers Bill have left customers more worried than ever before about the security of their data. Banks need to act fast to reassure customers and to avoid churn to a more secure rival. Moreover, all FS companies must ensure they are compliant with the GDPR, by embracing encryption of personal data and the whole idea of security and privacy by design, before it hits in 2018.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect across Europe in May 2018,  US and Canadian companies who think it doesn’t affect them are in for a rude awakening – with fines of €20 million, or 4% of your global revenue, whichever is higher!

To learn more about GDPR watch our webinar with Privacy by Design creator, Dr. Ann Cavoukian.

 By Jacob Ginsberg, Senior Director, Echoworx

This article originally appeared in the Global Banking & Finance Review

06 Jan 2017
Echoworx | Email Encryption Solutions | A Welcome Reset for Citizen Privacy

A Welcome Reset for Citizen Privacy

Canada’s Public Consultation on National Security

The notion that we are being watched digitally has, seemingly overnight, become something many people now accept as a fact of life in the modern, post-Snowden world. Much of the news around citizen privacy, as always, has been focused on the US, but are we on the sidelines? Canada is an active participant in the five-eyes program, has rolled out the now politically toxic Bill C-51, and as members of NATO, NORAD, and enough acronyms to fill an alphabet soup, we are very much an active player. Not to mention how connected we are on a personal level to the greater world. I may be Canadian, but I hold no illusions about my data – I exist online, along with my purchasing and travel behavior, web searches, e-mail and social media conversations, what TV shows I watch, and very often my location, on countless servers around the world – and the same goes for you. The more interesting question, now that extra-legal surveillance has become the de facto standard, is how have governments reacted and where, policy wise, do we go from here?

Drawn to the dark side

Both the US and UK have decided to go one way, attempting to drag extra-legal surveillance into the realm of legitimacy. In the US, choosing to have Edward Snowden continue to be a persona non grata, the FBI attempting to use the All Writs Act to compel Apple to write software that would break security features, the accepted use of Stingray devices on a local level, and the list goes on. The UK as well has been mulling over legislation of the draft Investigatory Powers bill that would compel internet service providers, telecom companies, and other services you rely on to turn in information about your habits without a warrant. Canada, in its own right, has made some concerning moves to the dark side. C-51, for instance, was a worrying enough debacle that the Liberals needed to reaffirm that yes, they do, in fact, still believe in The Charter. More recently this summer, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police began vocally calling for the power to get people’s phone passwords through the course of an investigation.

Opportunity for a reset

But it appears as if we’ve been afforded the opportunity for a reset. The Canadian government has opened up several public comment periods this year surrounding national security, and specifically how it will adapt to investigations in the digital age. This is an encouraging step to allow citizens’ concerns to be heard and offers the opportunity to make improvements to Canada’s national security laws and regulations, namely C-51. And while it takes two to tango, and some citizens are hesitant about the effectiveness of such consultations and the government’s reply, it is the responsibility of our democracy to respond and adjust, in an accommodating way to the public, as that is their hallmark.

The voice of resistance

Thankfully, the voice of resistance and, in this case, reason, continues to get louder and more forceful around the globe when it comes to issues of privacy versus security. Apple was willing to stare down the government rather than publicly compromise the security of their users. Alex Stamos, former CISO of Yahoo, resigned when he learned of a secret program whereby the government could search the e-mail of all Yahoo email users, in real time, without a warrant required. With the public consultation, we too have the opportunity to voice our objection to these larger trends towards the invasion of citizens’ lives and lowering the barriers to violating privacy.

So I, along with hundreds of others in the Canadian security industry, took part in the public comment period the government had devoted to national security. Hopefully you did the same. This was an opportunity to defend our fundamental rights and reset our legislation on citizen privacy.

Now, we sit back and wait to see how, in the face of an incredible amount of technological power, this government decides to treat its citizens – as an information mine to be exploited, or as the country’s most precious resource to be protected. We will be watching.

By Jacob Ginsberg, Senior Director, Echoworx

27 May 2016
Echoworx | Email Encryption Solutions | First the IP Bill, Then What?

First the IP Bill, Then What?

In the face of democratic debate, against all the clamoring voices of human rights organizations, global tech firms such as Facebook and Google, lawyers, journalists, and a host of academics; it seems that with regrettable flippancy, the Investigatory Powers Bill will be passed later this year.

The UK government’s plan for mass surveillance opens the door to indiscriminate and intrusive ‘snooping’. Furthermore, the provisions set out by Teresa May could undermine almost all cybersecurity and encryption measures currently in place. These two powerful and cogent arguments have been meekly put forward in parliament, and have now seemingly been rejected by the UK government.

The human rights impact of the Bill on British people will be huge, but very little has been made of the global and economic ramifications. The Bill, while costing the country billions in lost business, could also legitimize similarly heavy-handed practices in other states.

The UK government has shown that even in one of the most technologically developed countries, that privacy can be eroded by circling democratic process. The message from the UK is clear – it’s acceptable to pass ambiguous ‘snooping’ laws with very little backing. This sets a dangerous precedent and creates a genuine risk that other countries will adopt a similar approach of using a general lack of understanding and capitalizing on fear to push through laws which destroy user privacy.

Other major states are already considering similar moves. France’s parliamentarians recently reformed a penal bill that would punish companies if they refused to provide decrypted versions of messages their products have encrypted. For now, the French government has rejected encryption backdoors as ‘the wrong solution’, but the debate is at tipping point.

After WhatsApp announced it would push encryption further into everyday life, it immediately fell into hot water in Brazil for not storing messages demanded by the country’s courts. After various delays, Google has also moved to default encryption in the most recent release of Android, while Amazon has backtracked, promising that encryption will make a return on its newest Fire operating system. Most infamously, the FBI vs. Apple debate has rolled and rolled, and finally seems to have come to an inconclusive stop.

What is clear is that across the globe there is fast becoming a divide – governments vs. technology companies. The UK has set the precedent: simply pass draconian surveillance laws, and the problem is solved.

The global implications are huge, but the Bill will also cost taxpayers in two tangible ways. The government estimates that implementing the Bill will cost £174m, while experts suggest the figure will be well over £1 billion. These figures are based on a similar scheme that was rejected on cost grounds in Denmark, and have been scaled up proportionally for the UK.

Far larger, however, is the economic cost when companies flee Britain’s shores when the Bill passes. Companies are concerned that the proposed Bill will introduce state security into the heart of day-to-day operations, and will therefore move headquarters further afield. The UK’s data storage/hosting market would be crippled and the country could lose over £10 billion worth of business almost overnight.

The Bill hardly instills any confidence, especially while the implementation and ramifications barely seem to have been considered. A war over encryption is likely to rage, and its impact on the digital economy and day-to-day lives cannot be overstated.

By Jacob Ginsberg, Senior Director, Echoworx

This article originally appeared in Info Security Magazine