NDP MP Charlie Angus has sent a detailed letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews expressing concern about the return of lawful access legislation. Lawful access provisions are expected to be included in an omnibus crime bill to be introduced in the fall. Angus points to several key concerns, including mandatory disclosure of some personal information without court oversight:
Of particular concern is Clause 16 of the former Bill C-52 allowing security services unrestricted access to any device identification data from an ISP or other telecommunications service provider without a warrant. This will allow law enforcement to identify individuals involved in a striking array of online activity including anonymous political opinions made in blog posts or newspaper comments, location data posted online from a smart phone, social networking activity, private online instant message or email exchanges, and a host of currently unforeseeable future online interactions that are sure to come with new innovations and services. This unrestricted access to e-mail addresses will make it possible to track individuals across a vast range of online services, activities, and even locations.
Angus also points to the lack of oversight built into the bill:
This expansion of e-surveillance powers is all the more troubling given the lack of any effective oversight mechanisms put in place by this legislative regime. Bill C-52 in particular relies heavily on external audit powers granted to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada with respect to the warrantless disclosures it puts in place. As noted by the Privacy Commissioners of Canada, these oversight powers are insufficient and largely replicate mechanisms already available in the federal Privacy Act. Oversight must be expanded in breadth and scope if it is to have any alleviating effect, and it must be accompanied by sufficient funding and resources to permit the Privacy Commissioners to carry out their objectives.
Angus goes on to highlight the competitive implications of lawful access:
A final concern is the disproportionate impact some of Bill C-52’s requirements are likely to have on smaller ISPs and mobile service providers and, consequently, on their ability to compete in Canadian markets. Will smaller ISPs and mobile service providers be expected to meet the same standards for surveillance as large competitors? This legislation will impose added costs on equipment upgrades that smaller service providers will have difficulty meeting. The compensation for warrant-less information requests will burden small service providers with the obligation to respond to all manner of requests, spurious or otherwise.
The letter concludes with the key ask:
As none of these proposals have undergone parliamentary scrutiny, will you commit to ensuring that the Lawful Access” provisions of the omnibus crime bill will be set apart so they can undergo full review by Parliamentary committee?