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Reports

Government Docs Confirm the Case Against Warrantless Disclosure of Subscriber Data

As Public Safety Minister Vic Toews proclaims in the House of Commons that you either support lawful access or stand with child pornographers, Sarah Schmidt of Postmedia has a great story this afternoon on new lawful access revelations obtained under the Access to Information Act. The documents show the internal struggle to justify warrantless access to customer name and address information and call into question Toews repeated assertions that there is no warrantless access to private conversations. Those documents are consistent with many of the points I raised in my FAQ on the Internet surveillance legislation.

On the issue of warrantless access to subscriber information, a Public Safety document demonstrates that the intention is to use this data for purposes that do not involve criminal or child pornography concerns. For example, it notes that warrants would be problematic for "non-criminal, general policing duties" such as returning stolen property.  Is the government really proposing to drop key privacy protections for non-criminal concerns?

Moreover, despite claims that court oversight would burden the court system, previously undisclosed RCMP data shows 95% of requests for subscriber information are already met on a voluntary basis. Claims that court oversight would "literally collapse an already over-burdened judicial system" is therefore entirely inconsistent with the data that shows the overwhelming majority of cases are handled without court oversight. The need for court oversight arises for the last five percent, not 100% of the cases.


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Tens of Thousands Protest Against ACTA in Europe On the Weekend

Tens of thousands took to the streets over the weekend to protest against ACTA. Notable video and photos include Sofia, Bulgaria, Dresden, Germany, and Dusseldorf, Germany.
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Bill C-11 and the Hazards of Digital Lock Provisions

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a pair of excellent posts on Bill C-11 and the dangers of the digital lock rules. The first focuses specifically on digital lock rules and the second on U.S. pressure on Canadian copyright reform.
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Canadian Media Coverage Of Mounting C-11 Protests

The Canadian media has picked up on the mounting protests over part of Bill C-11.  Recent coverage includes the Vancouver Sun, Straight.com, and Radio-Canada.

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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lawful Access, But Were (Understandably) Afraid To Ask

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is expected to introduce lawful access legislation tomorrow in the House of Commons. An Act to enact the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act and to amend the Criminal Code and others Acts, likely to be Bill C-30, will mark the return of lawful access in a single legislative package. While it is certainly possible for a surprise, the bill is expected to largely mirror the last lawful access bills (C-50, 51, and 52) that died on the order paper with the election last spring.

This long post tries to address many of the most common questions and misconceptions about lawful access in Canada. The questions and answers are:
  • What is lawful access?
  • What is Bill C-30 likely to contain?
  • Isn't ISP customer name and address information similar to phone book data that is readily available to the public without privacy concerns? (first prong)
  • Isn't the mandatory disclosure of ISP customer information necessary for police investigations? (first prong)
  • Didn't former Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day pledge not to introduce mandatory disclosure of ISP customer information without court oversight? (first prong)
  • Who pays for the surveillance infrastructure required by lawful access? (second prong)
  • Does lawful access create a new regulatory framework for the Internet? (second prong)
  • Does lawful access create new police powers? (third prong)
  • Does opposing lawful access mean questioning the integrity of law enforcement?
  • Don't other countries have the same lawful access rules as those found in Canada?
  • What do Canada's privacy commissioners think about lawful access?
  • Are these lawful access proposal constitutional?
  • Does the government seem somewhat inconsistent on its crime and privacy policies?
  • Where can I learn more about lawful access and what can I do?
Update: Bill C-30 was introduced on February 14, 2012. One important change from the last bill to the current bill is that the list of data points subject to mandatory disclosure without court oversight has shrunk from 11 to six. The IMEI numbers, discussed further below, are no longer on the list.
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