Public Safety Links Telecom Foreign Investment with Lawful Access

Last week, I posted on the Public Safety Canada seeming attempt to circumvent the government’s spectrum consultation by submitting dual letters – a public letter expressing mild concern with foreign ownership and a secret letter warning of “considerable risks”. While that approach raises serious concerns that undermine public confidence in the consultation process, Public Safety’s detailed response (which is available on the Industry Canada site) anticipates the fight over Bill C-30 by specifically claiming that opening the Canadian telecom sector to foreign competition increases the necessity of lawful access legislation:

Today, with a limited number of companies and all with Canadian ownership, authorities and service providers often work together to develop and implement network solutions to support investigative requirements. With market diversification and an increased number of service providers, the need for legislation requiring intercept-capable networks becomes paramount in ensuring the investigative and intelligence gathering capabilities of law enforcement agencies and national security agencies are appropriately maintained.

Through Bill C-52 [predecessor to C-30], the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act, the Government is pursuing legislation that will help keep Canadians safe by equipping the police and national security agencies with the tools they need to combat crime and terrorism in the digital age. This legislation would help mitigate against possible threats from hostile foreign entities that would seek to exploit possible future relaxation of the foreign ownership restrictions in the telecommunications market.

Leaving aside the fact that child pornography doesn’t even rate a mention and the characterization of foreign entrants as hostile, the submission points to a likely line of argument from Public Safety (given the government’s decision to partially relax the foreign investment rules) should Bill C-30 be revived.

One Comment

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