The emphasis on the need for a reporting requirement – even after the fact – is based on the view that it is perhaps the best form of accountability. The court cites with approval language from the Ontario Criminal Lawyers’ Association that “the right to privacy implies not just freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, but also the ability to identify and challenge such invasions, and to seek a meaningful remedy. Notice would enhance all these interests. In the case of a secret warrantless wiretap, notice to intercepted person stands almost alone as an external safeguard.”
Given the court’s emphasis on notice, it is striking that Bill C-30 moves in precisely the opposite direction. As David Fraser has discussed, the lawful access bill has a gag order the explicitly prohibits disclosure of the warrantless disclosure. The provision is designed to stop telecom and Internet companies from disclosing their mandated disclosures to affected subscribers, even if they ask. In fact, the lack of accountability extends beyond just the statutory gag order on notice. Law enforcement officials – including Competition Bureau investigators – can demand subscriber data without a warrant and without any justification for the demand. Given the missing accountability measures in Bill C-30, last week’s Supreme Court decision sends a strong message that the lawful access bill is constitutionality vulnerable and provides yet another reason to withdraw the bill and hit the reset button.