Privacy by Sebastien Wiertz (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/wiertz/6092000030/sizes/l/

Privacy by Sebastien Wiertz (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/wiertz/6092000030/sizes/l/

Privacy

Silence by Alberto Ortiz (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/3cRLS7

Why Has Bell Remained Silent on Its Subscriber Information Disclosure Practices?

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Spencer decision, several leading Canadian ISPs have publicly announced that they have changed their practices on the disclosure of subscriber information (including basic subscriber information such as name and address) to law enforcement. For example, Rogers announced that it will now require a warrant or court order prior to disclosing information to law enforcement except in emergency situations. Telus advised that it has adopted a similar practice and TekSavvy indicated that that has long been its approach. SaskTel says that it will release name, address, and phone number.

Unlike its competitors, Bell has remained largely silent in recent weeks. In media reports, the company says little more than that it follows the law.  In fact, the Toronto Star’s Alex Boutilier tweets that the company is now declining to respond to journalist inquiries about the issue. In the past, the company was a clear supporter of disclosing “pre-warrant” information in some circumstances to law enforcement. As detailed in this Canadian Bar Association article:

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July 24, 2014 18 comments News
Come Back With a Warrant doormat, Cindy's place, Noe Valley, San Francisco, CA by Cory Doctorow (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/bB3VJN

Come Back With a Warrant: How Will the Canadian Government Respond to the Supreme Court’s Reshaping of Privacy Law?

Canadian Internet and telecom providers have, for many years, disclosed basic subscriber information, including identifiers such as name, address, and IP address, to law enforcement without a warrant. The government has not only supported the practice, but actively encouraged it with legislative proposals designed to grant full civil and criminal immunity for voluntary disclosures of personal information.

Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada struck a blow against warrantless disclosure of subscriber information, ruling that there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in that information and that voluntary disclosures therefore amount to illegal searches.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the decision left little doubt that Internet and telecom providers would need to change their disclosure policies. Last week, Rogers, the country’s largest cable provider, publicly altered its procedures for responding to law enforcement requests by announcing that it will now require a court order or warrant for the disclosure of basic subscriber information to law enforcement in all instances except for life threatening emergencies (warrantless disclosures may still occur where legislation provides the lawful authority to do so). Telus advised that it has adopted a similar approach.

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July 21, 2014 9 comments Columns
Rogers on the corner of Robson and Seymour by Jeffery Simpson (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/hZGAN

Rogers Releases New Policy on Disclosing Subscriber Information: Come Back with a Warrant

Rogers has updated its approach to responding to law enforcement requests for subscriber information to reflect last month’s Supreme Court of Canada Spencer decision. The company will now require a warrant for access to basic subscriber information (with the exception of life threatening emergencies), a policy that effectively kills the government’s Bill C-13 voluntary disclosure provisions. The government wants to provide full immunity for voluntary disclosure of personal information, but Canadian Internet providers and telecom companies are unlikely to provide such information without a court order given the recent decision. The Rogers update:

After hearing your concerns and reviewing the Supreme Court ruling from last month, we’ve decided that from now on we will require a court order/warrant to provide basic customer information to law enforcement agencies, except in life threatening emergencies. We believe this move is better for our customers and that law enforcement agencies will still be able to protect the public.

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July 16, 2014 9 comments News
Please! By Josh Hallett (CC-BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/yALRk

In Defence of Canada’s Anti-Spam Law, Part Two: Why the Legislation Is Really a Consumer Protection and Privacy Law in Disguise

My first post defending Canada’s anti-spam law focused on why spam remains a problem and how the new law may help combat fraudulent spam and target Canadian-based spamming organization. Most would agree that these are legitimate goals, but critics of the law will argue that it still goes too far since it covers all commercial electronic messages, not just fraudulent or harmful messages.

If the law were only designed to deal with harmful spam, they would be right. However, the law was always envisioned as something more than just an anti-spam bill. Indeed, when it was first introduced, it was called the Electronic Commerce Protection Act, reflecting the fact that it was expressly designed to address online consumer protection issues (the name CASL was an unofficial working name developed within Industry Canada). The law has at least three goals: provide Canada with tough anti-spam rules, require software companies to better inform consumers about their programs before installation, and update Canadian privacy standards by re-allocating who bears the cost for the use of personal information in the digital environment.

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July 10, 2014 7 comments News
Cross Border Action: The People's Round on the Trans Pacific Partnership by Caelie_Frampton (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/dy8srf

Why The Secrecy on the TPP Talks in Ottawa This Week? Because There is Something to Hide

Trade agreements have emerged in recent years as one of the federal government’s most frequently touted accomplishments. Having concluded (or nearly concluded) free trade deals with the likes of the European Union and South Korea, senior government ministers such as International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Industry Minister James Moore have held dozens of events and press conferences across the country promoting the trade agenda.

The next major agreement on the government’s docket is the Trans Pacific Partnership, a massive proposed trade deal that includes the United States, Australia, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Vietnam, Japan, Peru, and Chile. While other trade talks occupy a prominent place in the government’s promotional plans, the TPP remains largely hidden from view. Indeed, most Canadians would be surprised to learn that Canada is hosting the latest round of TPP negotiations this week in Ottawa.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) argues the secrecy associated with the TPP – the draft text of the treaty has still not been formally released, the precise location of the Ottawa negotiations has not been disclosed, and even the existence of talks was only confirmed after media leaks – suggests that the Canadian government has something to hide when it comes to the TPP.

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July 7, 2014 16 comments Columns