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    Who Needs Lawful Access?: Cdn Telcos Hand Over Data on Thousands of Subscribers Without a Warrant

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    Wednesday March 26, 2014
    The debate over Bill C-13, the government's latest lawful access bill, is set to resume shortly.  The government has argued that the bill should not raise concerns since new police powers involve court oversight and the mandatory warrantless disclosure provisions that raised widespread concern in the last bill have been removed.  While that is the government's talking points, I've posted on how this bill now includes incentives for telecom companies and other intermediaries to disclose subscriber information without court oversight since it grants them full civil and criminal immunity for doing so. Moreover, newly released data suggests that the telecom companies don't seem to need much of an incentive as they are already disclosing subscriber data on thousands of Canadians every year without court oversight.

    This week, the government responded to NDP MP Charmaine Borg's request for information on government agencies requests to telecom providers for customer information. The data reveals that the telecom companies have established law enforcement databases that provides ready access to subscriber information. For example, the Competition Bureau reports that it "accessed the Bell Canada Law Enforcement Database" 20 times in 2012-13.  The wording may be important, since the Bureau indicates that it accessed the information, rather than Bell provided it. It is not clear what oversight or review is used before a government agency may access the Bell database.


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    NDP MP Charmaine Borg Tries To Kickstart Canada's Dormant Privacy Reform

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    Wednesday February 27, 2013

    As reports of yet another government security breach emerge, NDP MP Charmaine Borg has at least tried to kickstart the government's dormant private sector privacy reform efforts with a private member's bill that would add mandatory security breach disclosure requirements to the law along with new order making power. The government's own privacy reform bill - Bill C-12 - has languished for years with no real effort by Industry Minister Christian Paradis to move it forward. Moreover, the bill has some serious faults, with no penalties for security breach, no update to the Privacy Commissioner's powers, and provisions that make organizations more likely to disclose personal information without warrant during an investigation.

    Bill C-475 is a far better proposal with amendments to PIPEDA with more clear cut security breach disclosure requirements along with order making power that is backed by significant penalties for compliance failures. Those provisions would do far to ensure greater respect for Canadian privacy law and give Canadians the assurance of notifications in the event of security breaches. What the bill does not do, however, is address the other side of the privacy coin, namely the failure of government to hold itself accountable for the personal information it collects and now regularly seems to fail to safeguard.


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    NDP MP Charmaine Borg Raises Concerns Over Watered Down Anti-Spam Regulations

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    Wednesday February 13, 2013
    NDP MP Charmaine Borg, the party's digital issues critic, has written to Industry Minister Christian Paradis to express concern over the draft anti-spam regulations, noting that they appear to circumvent the will of Parliament. The letter cites testimony from Industry Canada officials in 2010, who told the Industry Committee "what the legislation is trying to do is not allow a third party to give express or implied consent on behalf of another person."  Yet despite that position, the department has now proposed a third party referral exception.  Borg notes:

    After defending their decision to exclude a third party referral exception from the bill, Industry Canada officials, two-years later, introduced the very same exception into the regulations. Yet it was the text of Bill C-28 - explicitly excluding a third-party referral exception - that received multi-partisan support in the House, Industry Committee and the Senate.  It appears that in the intervening two years since Bill C-28 received Royal Assent, Industry Canada has decided to regulate around the will of Parliament.


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