Post Tagged with: "subscriber data"

Canadian Telcos Asked to Disclose Subscriber Data Every 27 Seconds

Every 27 seconds. Minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month. Canadian telecommunications providers, who collect massive amounts of data about their subscribers, are asked to disclose basic subscriber information to Canadian law enforcement agencies every 27 seconds. In 2011, that added up to 1,193,630 requests. Given the volume, most likely do not involve a warrant or court oversight (2010 RCMP data showed 94% of requests involving customer name and address information was provided voluntarily without a warrant).

In most warrantless cases, the telecommunications companies were entitled to say no. The law says that telecom companies and Internet providers may disclose personal information without a warrant as part of a lawful investigation or they can withhold the information until law enforcement has obtained a warrant. According to newly released information, three telecom providers alone disclosed information from 785,000 customer accounts in 2011, suggesting that the actual totals were much higher. Moreover, virtually all providers sought compensation for complying with the requests.

These stunning disclosures, which were released by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, comes directly from the telecom industry after years of keeping their disclosure practices shielded from public view. In fact, the industry was reluctant to provide the information to even the Privacy Commissioner.

According to correspondence I obtained under the Access to Information Act, after the Commissioner sent letters to the 12 biggest telecom and Internet providers seeking information on their disclosure practices, Rogers, Bell and RIM proposed aggregating the information to keep the data from individual companies secret. The response dragged on for months, with Bell admitting at one point that only four providers had provided data and expressing concern about whether it could submit even the aggregated response since it would be unable to maintain anonymity [I’ve released the full ATIP I received here].

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April 30, 2014 29 comments News

Government Docs Confirm the Case Against Warrantless Disclosure of Subscriber Data

As Public Safety Minister Vic Toews proclaims in the House of Commons that you either support lawful access or stand with child pornographers, Sarah Schmidt of Postmedia has a great story this afternoon on new lawful access revelations obtained under the Access to Information Act. The documents show the internal struggle to justify warrantless access to customer name and address information and call into question Toews repeated assertions that there is no warrantless access to private conversations. Those documents are consistent with many of the points I raised in my FAQ on the Internet surveillance legislation.

On the issue of warrantless access to subscriber information, a Public Safety document demonstrates that the intention is to use this data for purposes that do not involve criminal or child pornography concerns. For example, it notes that warrants would be problematic for “non-criminal, general policing duties” such as returning stolen property.  Is the government really proposing to drop key privacy protections for non-criminal concerns?

Moreover, despite claims that court oversight would burden the court system, previously undisclosed RCMP data shows 95% of requests for subscriber information are already met on a voluntary basis. Claims that court oversight would “literally collapse an already over-burdened judicial system” is therefore entirely inconsistent with the data that shows the overwhelming majority of cases are handled without court oversight. The need for court oversight arises for the last five percent, not 100% of the cases.

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February 13, 2012 16 comments News