Archive for November, 2013

Why Peter MacKay Is Wrong About Warrantless Access to Personal Information

The debate on Bill C-13 opened yesterday in the House of Commons with opposition MPs calling on the government to split the bill into two (cyberbullying and lawful access) and raising concerns about the voluntary disclosure provision that would give Internet providers complete criminal and civil immunity for voluntary retention and disclosure of subscriber information. When asked about the issue, Justice Minister Peter MacKay said the following:

The provision would clarify that the police officer can lawfully ask – and he points out – that individuals and groups voluntarily preserve data or provide documentation, but only when no prohibition exists against doing so. That is to suggest that organizations would still be bound by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, something known as PIPEDA, which makes it clear that an organization is entitled to voluntarily disclose personal information to the police, without the consent of the person to have the information relayed.

However police have to have lawful authority to do so. They still have to obtain a warrant. They can ask that the information be preserved and temporarily put on hold so that it cannot be deleted, but in order for police to access that information that is frozen, they must still obtain a warrant. There is no warrantless access.

Unfortunately, MacKay is wrong.

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November 28, 2013 5 comments News

Snowden Documents Show U.S. Spy Operation at G20 in Toronto

The CBC reports that newly obtained Snowden documents reveal that the Canadian government allowed the NSA to conduct widespread surveillance during the 2010 G8 and G20 summits. The six-day spying operation was apparently conducted  in close coordination with the Canadian partner.

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November 28, 2013 Comments are Disabled Must Reads

NDP Calls on Government To Split C-13 While Stoddart Surprisingly Supports Approach

The New Democrats have called on the government to split Bill C-13, arguing that the cyberbullying provisions should be examined separately from the return of lawful access provisions.  Somewhat surprisingly, outgoing Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart has expressed support for the government’s decision to include lawful access powers in the bill.

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November 28, 2013 1 comment Must Reads

Government Names Bernier Interim Privacy Commissioner

The federal government has announced that Chantal Bernier will take over as Interim Privacy Commissioner next week with the end of Jennifer Stoddart’s term. The government is currently advertising the position.

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November 28, 2013 3 comments Must Reads

Lawful Access Returns Under the Cover of Cyber-Bullying Bill

In February 2012, then-Public Safety Minister Vic Toews introduced Internet surveillance legislation that sparked widespread criticism from across the political spectrum. The overwhelming negative publicity pressured the government to quickly backtrack by placing Bill C-30 on hold. Earlier this year, then-Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced that the bill was dead, confirming “we will not be proceeding with Bill C-30 and any attempts that we will continue to have to modernize the Criminal Code will not contain the measures contained in C-30.”

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that Nicholson’s commitment lasted less than a year. Last week, Peter MacKay, the new federal justice minister, unveiled Bill C-13, which is being marketed as an effort to crack down on cyber-bullying. Yet the vast majority of the bill simply brings back many (though not all) lawful access provisions found in Bill C-30.

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November 27, 2013 2 comments Columns