watcher_and_watched_1692 by Pete (CC BY-SA 2.0)

watcher_and_watched_1692 by Pete (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Public Safety Committee Recommends Against Lawful Access Reforms

Last month, I wrote about the recent initiative to revive lawful access, the rules that govern police access to Internet and subscriber information. A cybercrime working group has held consultations (I participated in one) as law enforcement seeks new powers for warrantless access to some ISP information (called “pre-cursor” data) and a new, lower threshold warrant for other subscriber data. While law enforcement has argued that the current system is broken, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security has recommended that the current approach remain unchanged.

The committee’s much anticipated report on developing a road map for national security contains dozens of recommendations (my colleague Craig Forcese reviews many of them) including one on lawful access.  It states:

That at this time, and following the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R. v. Spencer, no changes to the lawful access regime for subscriber information and encrypted information be made, but that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security continue to study such rapidly evolving technological issues related to cyber security.

Given that Liberal MPs form the majority of the committee (the report contains dissenting reports from both Conservatives and NDP), the recommendation presumably reflects current government thinking on the issue. If so, it suggests that the government has not immediate plans to reform lawful access. Committee Chair Rob Oliphant says that police sought expanded powers, but that the argument was not yet “compelling.”  Lawful access isn’t going away – the issue has been debated for years – but MPs are rightly unconvinced that there is a need for warrantless access to subscriber information.


  1. Jack Dodds says:

    I hope that the committee report does reflect the government position, but I fear it does not. The same committee made a number of necessary amendments to Bill C-22 to give the proposed national security oversight committee more power and independence, but the government trashed them when the bill went back to the Commons for third reading. There’s more here:

  2. All the ISPs are agents of the government of the day. The ISPs just hand the info over all the time without a warrant. It is silly to think the ISPs are going to say no to a government that can make or break them at anytime they want. There are alot of incentives for cooperating with government anyways. It is big money for both to keep the low hanging fruit available for all to pick. The government is a thing the corporations invented to make the people think there is law and order but there is none unless they allow it. DON’T BE BLIND. Trump is right, the media is full of crap, they are there to cover up the corruption. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK MICHAEL, TAKE CARE.

  3. Pingback: Our Daily Reading List – 15/05/2017 – Blog – Clausehound