The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has posted her initial letter and analysis of Bills C-46 and C-47, the lawful access legislation.
Post Tagged with: "c-47"
Earlier this week, I posted on the Liberals first reaction to Bill C-46, part one of the lawful access package. Rather than focusing on substantive issues, the immediate response was "what took you so long," an obvious effort to appear even tougher on crime. C-46 was sent to committee for further study on Tuesday. Immediately afterward, C-47, the other half of lawful access came up for second reading. This part of the bill is particularly problematic is it raises the prospect of mandatory disclosure of personal information without a warrant and requires ISPs to install new surveillance capabilities on their networks.
The warrantless access to information is incredibly troubling as it runs counter to a pledge from the previous Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, has only been supported a mischaracterized incident from earlier this year, and raises fundamental problems with the privacy vs. security balance. In fact, the bill goes even further than the Liberal version of the bill from years ago, by adopting an exceptionally broad definition of customer name and address information.
Once again, the reaction to the bill was telling.
The Library of Parliament has posted a legislative summary of Bill C-47, half of the lawful access proposal.
The Ottawa Citizen ran a detailed feature on the lawful access bills with comments from both law enforcement and privacy advocates. Police say requiring warrants for ISP subscriber data is "harmful to public safety."
The push for new Internet surveillance capabilities – dubbed the "lawful access" initiative – dates back to 1999, when government officials began crafting proposals to institute new surveillance technologies within Canadian networks along with additional legal powers to access surveillance and subscriber information. Over the past decade, lawful access has stalled despite public consultations, bills that have died on the order paper, and even a promise from former public safety minister Stockwell Day to avoid mandatory disclosure of personal information without court oversight. Last June, current Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan tabled the latest lawful access legislative package. Much like its predecessors, the bill establishes new surveillance requirements for Internet service providers. In an about-face from the Day commitment however, it also features mandatory disclosure of customer information, including name, address, IP address, and email address upon request and without court oversight.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, Ottawa Citizen version, homepage version) notes that lawful access has long faced at least two significant barriers. The first involves ISP costs associated with installing new equipment and responding to disclosure requests. The government has attempted to address those concerns by promising to help pay the bills. It plans to provide some funding for new equipment and, in a little noticed provision, has opened the door to paying ISPs for providing customer name and address information to law enforcement authorities.