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Public Safety Canada Quietly Launches Lawful Access Consultation

Public Safety Canada and Industry Canada have quietly launched a semi-public consultation on one element of lawful access.  The new consultation, which concludes on September 25th, asks for comments on the provision of customer name and address information by telecommunications companies to law enforcement.  The consultation has not been posted on the Internet and I was asked not to post it online.

That said, this is an important issue and I believe that the government should hear from all interested stakeholders, not a hand-picked, secret group.  In the consultation, Public Safety claims that "law enforcement agencies have been experiencing difficulties in consistently obtaining basic CNA information from telecommunications service providers.  In the absence of explicit legislation, a variety of practices exists among TSPs with respect to the release of basic customer information, e.g. name, address, telephone number, or their Internet equivalents."  After identifying what it considers CNA data (including cell phone identifiers, email addresses, and IP addresses), the departments propose a series of safeguards including limits on who would have access to the information, limited uses of the information, and internal audits on the use of these powers.

It is extremely disappointing to see that the departments continue to believe that ISPs should be required to hand over potentially sensitive personal information without a court order or other judicial oversight.  Moreover, the claim that law enforcement has faced "difficulties" in obtaining CNA data remains completely unsubstantiated (to the extent that some ISPs ask for a court order, this reflects an appropriate balance that Parliament established when it enacted PIPEDA). 

The lawful access issue has often raised the spectre of "big brother" fears.  Establishing a non-public public consultation that omits a range of pro-privacy policy alternatives and excludes many interested stakeholders leaves the distinct impression of a process that has already been determined and one that makes the Orwellian concerns all the more real.

24 Comments

  1. It also presumes that an IP can be tied
    The problem with IP addresses is they identify home routers at the most. Telling what household a negative activity comes from has been repeatedly abused to launch unfounded lawsuits on individuals when it is others in the family, people sniping or sharing wifi or just the neighbourhood kids using a household computer.

    Simply put, an IP is not capible of personal identification, but it is very capable of harassing the account holder.

    But beyond that, why does law enforcement hate the judicial branch; what’s wrong with getting a warrant for a wiretap, just like they do for a phone?

  2. to play a bit of a devil’s advocate, the IP of a home router is no less identifying than IP of a home land line. Anyone could be behind the router and anyone could have made a phone call from a land line. In fact, in many situations both are as easily hackable. Thus, an open or badly secured wifi router can be hijacked by neighbors, but so can a fixed line in a residential complex. When I used to live in a townhouse, a multipair phone cable, with everyone’s phone line was passing through each unit’s basement. Tapping into that would have been as simple as tapping into an open wifi signal.

    In this case, the basic question is whether police can obtain information regarding a phone number without a court order. If they can, then it doesn’t really make sense that they can’t do the same for IP addresses.

    On the other hand, the long standing problem, voiced by Telus in the BMG case is that the association between IP addresses and information is not static. The new provision would require ISPs to keep historical records of association between IP addresses and subscribers. That said, I seriously doubt that they don’t do that already, no matter what was said in BMG.

  3. Wiretapping

    It is extremely disappointing to see that the departments continue to believe that ISPs should be required to hand over potentially sensitive personal information without a court order or other judicial oversight

    RCMP spied on CCFer politician Tommy Douglas. I can only imagine what dubious reasons these people will use to spy on people with the almost unlimited surveillance power of the Internet. Even the US has FISA (three-day retroactive) warrants, and there’s a brouhaha down there over the so-called “Terrorist Surveillance Program” which was struck down by the FISA court.

  4. Sum Bud Yelse
    Besides, what right has the phone company to publish my name, etc in a public document, ie the phone book, then blackmail me to have an unlisted number, address, etc?

    So I asked the privacy commissioner years ago. I still await a resolution of this and a similar question of CRTC, and of hydro, who electrify public soil to save wiring and legal costs.

  5. Alexandre Racine says:

    You can contact them here : communications@sp.gc.ca

    I have sent this :
    —————-
    Vous faites présentement une consultation semi-privé sur l’accès à l’information des fournisseurs Internets. Source : [ link ]

    -Pourquoi ceci n’est pas publique?
    -Pourquoi les est-ce que les gardiens des lois ont besoin d’un mandat de la court pour avoir des renseignements d’une entreprise privé et n’aurait pas ce besoin pour un fournisseur de services Internet?

    Bonne journée

  6. ???? ????
    Steve W Harper is not my president!

    We deserve it if they get a majority.

    Of the People
    By the People
    For the People

    Get it Stevie, The People not the Reform Party!

  7. rod / techfold.com says:

    Dear Jennifer Stoddard: Quit Screwing Ar
    Michael, thanks for bringing this to everyone’s attention. I jotted down my thoughts here:

    [ link ]

  8. Anonymous Coward says:

    Wanna write the Minister?
    [ link ]

  9. You don\\\’t have to be a genius to see where this going…

    There is a grim article on http://www.atlerNet.org today about how dissidents (academics, peace activists, raging grannie types) are being severely hassled (strip searched,detained for extened periods etc) when traveling by air in or to the US.

    Data mining your email, monitoring your use of the web — this will make it effortless for the corpratocry to compile these lists. I\\\’m sure with SPP, Canada is obliged to reconcile/merge their lists with the USAs.

  10. Do you have a listing of public hearings in Ontario?

  11. Caleb Buxton says:

    Official Response
    I got this as a response from the government:

    For more information on the Customer Name and Address Information
    Consultation please refer to the following web page:
    [ link ]

  12. Concerned Individual says:

    I have never understood individuals like you. I truly hope lawful access passes because it\’s about time it does! That would in fact in my mind be one of the first things the government has done right in the last few years.

    As for those individuals out there afraid that ISP\’s would hand over there personal information to the police. Ok, well then my question is what are you doing that you don\’t want the police to know you are doing? If you\’re not doing anything then what do you have to hide? Nothing! Exactly.

  13. The little weinies in Ottawa want a police state like their American masters. Laughable little document. They probably gave it you knowing you’d leak it. Test the public reaction. You know who to vote out next election people.

  14. YourPathetic says:

    To the poor, stupid, “Concerned Canadian” whose little mind is troubled that the police don’t have ask to all his information,

    [ link ]

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    email addresses, and IP addresses), the departments propose a series of safeguards including limits on who would have access to the information, limited uses of the information, and internal audits on the use of these powers.

  20. To those who would support this…
    I’m not sure that supporters of this actually comprehend what this would mean.

    I saw the comment “As for those individuals out there afraid that ISP’s would hand over there personal information to the police. Ok, well then my question is what are you doing that you don’t want the police to know you are doing?” from “Concerned Individual”.

    It makes absolutely no difference what someone is doing online when it comes to this bill. It’s not about what the government can see people doing that’s illegal. It’s about what they can see people doing in general without requiring a warrant. Do you really want the government to be able to tap in to any conversation that you are having at any given point in time while online? They would then have obtained any of that information “lawfully” and could therefore use it in any way that they see fit. In my opinion, doing that is no different than them showing up at your house, breaking down your front door, and searching your home for no particular reason. Or recording every telephone call that you’ve ever made and storing them in a database without a warrant.

    A government should never know more about their citizens than their citizens know about it. Every oppressive government in history has started out by eliminating the freedoms of the people. I’m not going so far as to say that we’re dealing with a dictatorship here, but it’s certainly a step in that direction.

    This bill is an attack on section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: “Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure”. The real frightening question is if we let this pass, then what’s next? Once a government is able to push something like this through they just get bolder and bolder.

    To borrow a line from the movie Enemy of the State: “How do we draw the line between protection of national security, obviously the government’s need to obtain intelligence data, and the protection of civil liberties, particularly the sanctity of my home? You’ve got no right to come into my home!”

    This bill is a step too far.

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