The Secret Lawful Access Regs: What the Gov Told the Telcos While Keeping the Public in the Dark

My post yesterday on a secret government – telecom lawful access working group attracted considerable attention with many understandably focused on the revelations that virtually all major Canadian telecom companies (with the notable exception of Shaw) actively worked with the government for months on lawful access legislation. Yet perhaps the most important document is a lawful access regulations policy document that offered guidance on plans for the extensive regulations that will ultimately accompany the Internet surveillance legislation. The specific document obtained under Access to Information is dated October 2010 and was created to support an earlier version of the lawful access bill.  However, the same government documents indicate that the policy document was provided to telecom providers last fall, including disclosure to the Canadian Network Operators Consortium in December 2011 after CNOC was at an event a month earlier with Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and expressed support for the lawful access bill.

The regulations policy document are not the regulations per se, but rather a clear indication of planned regulations under the guise of a policy document. The document contains several key sections:

  • The Interception Regulations, including specific details on interception capabilities (as many as 200 simultaneous interceptions), response time to interception requests (30 minutes for remote interceptions), confidentiality requirements, transmission capabilities (real time transmission of intercepted communications), and delivery of intercepted communications.
  • The Interception Equipment Regulations, including very specific capabilities for simultaneous interceptions including multiple targets and providing intercepted communications to up to five different agencies at the same time. These regulations also identify requirements on service providers to increase their capacity (up to five business days).
  • The Subscriber Information Disclosure Regulations, including the form to be used to request subscriber information (which can come from police, the Competition Bureau, or CSIS). These also discuss the concept of law enforcement providing at least one identifier (ie. a name, email address or IP address) in order to receive the other corresponding subscriber information. There are also confidentiality requirements and details on telecom provider record keeping. The regulations also identify timing requirements for disclosure, typically within two business days but within 30 minutes in exceptional circumstances.
  • The Other Obligations Regulations, including location information disclosures that may require telecom companies to disclose location information such as street address, longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates or cell site. It is not clear whether such information would require a warrant. These regulations also will provide details on assisting law enforcement in testing equipment, the special rules for smaller providers, and categories for administrative monetary penalties for failing to comply with the law.
  • The Payment to Providers Regulations identify when telecom providers will be compensated by law enforcement. These include (1) complying with a Ministerial Order to obtain equipment, software, or to modify existing equipment; (2) provide telecom support related to interceptions; and (3) providing subscriber information.

While the actual regulations may change, it is shocking that Public Safety has provided this information to dozens of companies but kept it secret from the Canadian public. The secrecy associated with the lawful access initiative certainly further undermines trust in Bill C-30 and highlights the need to scrap the bill and the two-tier policy process and start from scratch.


  1. James Plotkin says:

    Is it really that shocking? I don’t know. I feel like I would have been significantly more shocked if the Gov came out and did public consultations. I don’t think they’re much interested in what the public has to say about these laws. Symptoms of a majority Conservative Government.

  2. No Surprise says:

    Baby Bells
    I wonder if people are still going to be running to Teksavvy after learning they support this. Suckers.

  3. seriously?
    Where else is there to “run to” exactly? Is there a single ISP left that’s interested in their user’s privacy? Of all the ISP’s out there, I would have thought Teksavvy was… I for one will be writing them about this.

  4. Privacy is awesome
    Privacy is awesome.

    Privacy means you can be yourself. You can express ideas without fear of being discriminated against or unjustly punished. It’s your life without pausing to think who’s watching: party hard, open up to a friend, organize a revolution, hang out with whoever you want–privacy keeps you safe. It’s a core principle in any free society.

    from the campaign against CISPA:

  5. Crockett says:

    In defense of the independent ISPs, they would probably want to know what regulations would be forced on them and so it would only be wise to be part of these discussions. They should have made know publicly that they were doing so rather than just looking like all the others.

    I suppose there may have been a NDA involved … perhaps like the one Towes got his babysitter to sign? ;D

  6. privater
    Oh no! So the government can know my subscriber info! And hear me talk on the phone? Oh NO!

    Um… okay.

  7. Invasion of privacy
    Harper absolutely hates the internet. He hates his dastardly deeds getting out to the public. Opposition party’s have complained about Harper sneaky meetings, behind closed doors. This has nothing to do with pedophilia nor pornography. This is all about Harper’s non-transparent government. He does not people to be able to, inform each other and expose the governments, dirty tactics/dirty politics.

    There were police caught watching porn, on the computers at work. I doubt those sites have been taken down by them.

  8. Proper and Improper
    It’s good when government consults with industry. Government don’t know what being a kind of company is like.

    It’s bad when government secretly provides (under NDAs) specifics of a new law, including cash for following and enforcing it (!) on uncompensated customers, and then forcefully tries to enact it by calling the opposition pedophiles. We still don’t know what went on in the meetings, but it clearly appears like corruption — patronage I believe.

    Shaw gambled well here, and I support their strategy.

  9. ..
    @No Surprise
    Where else is there to go besides I’m not surprised they are for this bill but they definitely are still better then Rogers in price and monthly bandwidth so I can download as much illegal shit I want! YA you heard me CONS and MPAA/RIAA and those wannabe Canadian MPAA/RIAA so shuv it!

  10. Makes you wonder how much secret crap went into C11, seeing how they’re set to pass it in record time even though the opposition and public are against it.

    What are you hiding, Harper….

  11. candy
    9.Persönlich gratulieren diesen Kommentar durch den Urheber oder Schöpfer dieser Artikel so interessant ist genau was ich wollte, ich danke Ihnen sehr für das Schreiben und Publizieren. Ich habe viele verschiedene Artikel zu lesen. aber wie seine Artikel, und wir hoffen, dass Sie mehr und besser zu schreiben. Ich rate ihnen, um sie, dank lesencasquette new era

  12. The ISP’s are biting the hands that feed
    them. It’s going to create a backlash, from
    not only the likely passing of Bill C-11, but
    this news coming out of them supporting Bill

    I survived without the internet, before its
    inception. And with restricted freedoms and
    having my privacy disappear online, if either
    one or both C-11 or C-30 pass, internet better
    be dirt cheap. I’ll pay no more than just over
    $25 CDN to surf news and sports sites. Even
    accepting to be charged twenty-five bucks for just
    that a month, would probably still be generous
    on my part.

  13. grendalcat says:

    The point, if you listen to Shawn Buckley, and other Canadian constitutional lawyers is, that if you want to preserve civil rights,the Bill of Rights and the Charter of rights protections, society cannot agree to give government a toolkit of vast new powers, while doing away with the protections a warrant provides. Otherwise the only think standing between you, the taser, and the jailhouse is somo police, or customs officer watered down idea of discretion, which as we have witnessed at G-20, and the Montreal riots, the Dizanski tasering (remember him) and the Calgary airport is outrite dangerous.