Earlier this year, reports indicated that the Canadian Border Services Agency had requested subscriber information over 18,000 times in a single year, with the vast majority of the requests and disclosures occuring without a warrant. The information came to light through NDP MP Charmaine Borg’s efforts to obtain information on government agencies requests for subscriber data. Borg followed up the initial request with a more detailed list of questions and earlier this week she receive the government’s response.
The latest response confirms the earlier numbers and sheds more light on CBSA practices. First, the CBSA confirms that requests for subscriber information are conducted without a court order by relying upon Section 43 of the Customs Act. It provides:
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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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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 […]
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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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