Québec’s Own French Language Open Source Licenses

While doing some work as to open source, I recently came across a section of the list of officially accredited open source license and that includes 3 licenses Made in Québec. These were apparently created by Québec authorities for its own purposes. Not too surprisingly, the original version of these 3 open source licenses is in French, contrary to most others of this kind.

The official site www.opensource.org now lists these 3 licenses, which I’m linking below to a micro-site created by the Centre de services partagés du Québec called Forge gouvernementale”. The presentation of the documents on this site is much easier to read than the version posted on opensource.org (that presents the text of each license in a single block of text):

The OSS licenses at issue were created with the government’s software development efforts in mind and (initially) presented in French, though an English translation is available. As with other open source licenses, the goal here is to free source code in the manner that maximizes the users’ rights and the ease with which it may be used and redistributed down the line. If you’re curious (I was), the Québec government published the following FAQ about these licenses.

The first license (LiLiQ-P) is akin to the Apache open source license and, thus fairly permissive. The code released under this license may be included in other software that is then distributed without having to make it available with the source code and without being required to distribute it through an open source license.

The other 2 licenses (LiLiQ-R and LiLiQ-R+) are relatively similar to somewhat more restrictive licenses such as the MPL license and the LGPL license, requiring that resulting software be made available, including as source code, through a LiLiQ-type license. Another feature of the licenses at issue resides in their reciprocity provisions, generally allowing the combination of LiLiQ code with code made available pursuant to most other open source licenses.

Is anyone really surprised that Québec would want to express how different it is from the rest of Canada (and the world) by creating its own version of an open source license? Eh, why not?

Alleged Flaws in Cellebrite UFED May Allow Throwing Out of Locked Smartphones Evidence

It is inevitable in today’s world that law enforcement is sometimes faced with mobile devices that a suspect locked prior to their seizure by authorities. Locking your devices is good common sense security: This goes for you and I, and, yes, for criminals. As a result, the police will sometimes need to break the encryption on such mobile devices in order to get to the data within, either for investigative or evidentiary purposes. That’s when tools such as Cellebrite UFED come into play. By using UFED, law enforcement can break into otherwise secure devices, such as iPhone smartphones, and get to the data within.

Unfortunately for the prosecution side, someone recently obtained access to UFED and analyzed its security features. These were found to be, shall we say, lacking. Indeed, according to Moxie Marlinspike (creator of the Signal app), ironically, cybersecurity isn’t exactly UFED’s strong suit. In fact, according to his report, after looking at the product, he believes this tool’s security is so weak that even scanning a booby-trapped device may result in an alteration of the data that was or is later extracted using UFED.

In short, in their efforts to secure some evidence, it seems that some police forces are using a tool whose reliability may be called into question. Indeed, if the tool at issue cannot be counted on to provide data that is a reliable record of what really was found in a particular device, should such evidence not be thrown out?

Legally, the fact that a tool used to extract information is prone to tampering may not bode well for convictions obtained on the basis of the resulting evidence, at least if the vulnerabilities reported by Moxie Marlinspike can be substantiated. Some American defense attorneys intend to argue against convictions secured by the authorities based on evidence extracted from locked smartphones. This could lead to the need for new trials in some cases.

UFED is apparently used by many law-enforcement agencies throughout the world. We don’t yet know how many convictions this inconvenient revelation may eventually allow defence attorneys to call into question.

This is yet another example of the perpetually problematic relationship between cybersecurity and the law.

Canadian Government Angling to Control Content Placed Online, including UGC and Even Apps

As you may recall, since last fall, the Canadian government has been working toward getting its bill C-10 enacted. The bill aims to allow taxing streaming services such as Netflix. Though this may have been the initial impetus behind the introduction of the bill, we’re now seeing that C-10 may also go so far as to allow the regulation of content placed online, including user-generated content, computer games and apps of all kinds. Yes, Canada seems to have decided to shed its laissez-faire attitude toward what’s placed on the Internet.

Indeed, it would now seem that the Liberal government may be trying to broaden bill C-10 so as to grant the CRTC additional powers to regulate whatever is placed online, including (the latest twist in this little legislative soap opera), apps—yes, you read this right: apps. This story is being disseminated by Michael Geist, further to a statement seemingly made by mistake by an MP while commenting on an amendment that has yet to be formally introduced. Apparently, the government may be in the process of making changes to C-10 that would allow the CRTC to regulate not only streaming services, but also some content itself, such as apps made available on the Internet.

Though the government stated it did not intend to try and regulate computer games, it now appears C-10 may, on the contrary, end up allowing the CRTC to regulate software made available through the Internet, a prospect that has many cringing.

From a bill initially justified as a way to simply allow the taxation of streaming services (such as Netflix) in Canada (to level the playing field vs. other ways of making content available to Canadians), we’re now faced with a bill that seems to be transmogrifying into a bill meant to empower the government (through the CRTC) to control what is placed or made available by and to Canadians online. This may end up being extended and/or applied to computer games, content placed on social networks, blog posts, podcasts, etc. Hmm, so much for the CRTC’s 2000 position that it wouldn’t mess with the Internet.

Is it just me or are we faced with a slight drift in the federal government’s recent efforts to try and better control the Internet in Canada? Hmmm—to be continued, unfortunately.