Saturday 3 November 2012




By Michael Geist  
February 20, 2012

The debate over Bill C-30, the online surveillance bill, has thus far focused on the mandatory disclosure of subscriber information, including name, address, email address, and IP address. The provision represents a significant change in the law, which currently allows ISPs to disclose such information but does not require them to do so. In response to the criticism, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has emphasized that the content of emails or web surfing habits would still require a warrant.

Yet Toews has not talked about a provision in Bill C-30 that creates a voluntary warrantless system that would allow police to ask for the content of emails or web surfing habits and allow ISPs to comply with the request without fear of liability. Section 487.0195 states the following:  (1) 
For greater certainty, no preservation demand, preservation order or production order is necessary for a peace officer or public officer to ask a person to voluntarily preserve data that the person is not prohibited by law from preserving or to voluntarily provide a document to the officer that the person is not prohibited by law from disclosing.
A person who preserves data or provides a document in those circumstances does not incur any criminal or civil liability for doing so.
This provision opens the door to police approaching ISPs and asking them to retain data on specified subscribers or to turn over any subscriber information - including emails or web surfing activities - without a warrant. ISPs can refuse, but this provision is designed to remove any legal concerns the ISP might have in doing so, since it grants full criminal and civil immunity for the disclosures.

While many would hope that ISPs would not hand over personal information without a warrant, revelations that they already provide customer name and address information about 95 percent of the time suggests that police have little to lose in asking for more detailed data preservation and disclosure. Bill C-30 increases the likelihood of "voluntary" warrantless disclosures, creating a legal framework that makes it easy and risk-free from a provider perspective. 

Device that pegs your phone in a crowd reflects a 'massive invasion of privacy' says BC civil liberties director.

October 31, 2012,

Police in three major Canadian departments have declined to confirm whether they have the technology to identify people in a crowd based on the unique identifiers on their cellphones.

"It reflects a massive invasion of privacy," said David Eby, the executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, speaking about the technology which can be used to capture the International Mobile Subscriber Identity or International Mobile Equipment Identity on cellphones and other devices.

Eby said the BCCLA became interested in whether the technology was being used here after reading about it in a British newspaper article.

During a presentation to a B.C. legislature committee last week, on a day when some 3,000 people gathered on the lawn to protest Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, he described the IMSI or IMEI catcher as "a suitcase-sized device that can capture the identifying signature of cellphone devices that acts as basically a portable cellphone tower that allows the identification of people in rallies or at meetings."

Paired with the federal government's lawful access bill as earlier proposed, the technology would allow such access without a warrant, he said.

Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu, by the way, this week announced he strongly supports the controversial bill, saying the police are handcuffed by current laws.

Police refuse to answer

Eby submitted information requests to the Vancouver Police Department, the RCMP's 'E' Division in Vancouver and the Ontario Provincial Police, noting that in recent years each has listed purchases from Dyplex Communications Ltd., the Canadian distributor of the equipment made by Datong plc.

None of the departments would confirm or deny whether they had or were using the technology.

"I am writing to inform you that we do not disclose electronic surveillance techniques or equipment on the primary grounds of concern for officer safety and the integrity of current or future investigations," wrote the RCMP's Mark Fleming.

The department would be guided by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Criminal Code in deciding what technologies to use, he said.

"Due to the nature of the inquiry around covert surveillance equipment or techniques and due to operational sensitivities, I am not at liberty to comment or disclose information as requested at this time on behalf of the department," wrote Dean Robinson from the Vancouver Police Department.

"I will not discuss OPP operational matters or respond to questions about the OPP's investigative equipment, since, you will understand, disclosing such information may hinder the OPP's effectiveness and abilities to carry out its policing mandate," said Scott Tod with Ontario's provincial police force.

"The OPP recognizes and respects the constitutional rights of all Canadians," he said. "It will not do anything in its operations or investigations that will compromise those rights."

Lack of oversight

Eby said the response is "totally unacceptable" on something that would affect so many people. The technology would capture information from people who are not targets of investigations and would allow the police to build lists of everyone at a rally or a meeting, he said.

"For anyone other than a police officer to do it would be a criminal offence," he said, adding that it may well turn out to be a criminal offence for a police officer to do it as well.

There is a general lack of oversight when the police adopt new technologies, said Eby, who spoke to the legislature committee on conducted energy weapons, or tasers, this week.

"It appears to be whatever the police can afford, they're allowed to use," he said. Instead, when there's a new technology police want to use, "elected officials should look at it and weigh the costs and benefits," he said.

Justice Minister Shirley Bond said it was the first she'd heard about the technology but would make some inquiries.

"It's very concerning," said NDP attorney general critic Leonard Krog. "I look forward to the Attorney General finding out what she can given she has more authority than David Eby or myself."

Krog said the technology raises several serious questions, including what exactly the machines do, how the police might be using them and what records they could keep from them. The Attorney General should be able to say whether or not the police are using a technology that "invades the natural privacy of people when normally a court order would be required."

Asked about the police departments' suggestion that answering the question would compromise law enforcement, Krog said, "We're supposed to live in an open democratic society." People know that police officers can carry weapons and that they can get warrants for wiretaps without hampering police doing their job, he said.

There is "absolutely" a need for oversight when the police adopt new technologies, said Krog. "If new tools are given, there should be an effort to assess their efficacy and legality," said Krog. "There has to be a balance between law enforcement and privacy... They may well be off the balance." 
By Andrea Woo
October 26, 2012

Vancouver’s police chief is urging the federal government to pass a controversial bill that would grant law enforcement agencies warrantless access to some identifying information of Canadian telecommunications users.

Chief Jim Chu, who is also president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, said at a news conference in Vancouver on Friday police are handcuffed by outdated legislation dating back to “the days of the rotary telephone.”

“We all know there has been a lot of talk lately about how we find online predators,” he said. “Bill C-30 will modernize the criminal code so predators and other criminals will not be able to prey on children or other victims with impunity. If we stand by and do nothing, criminals will continue to exploit today’s technologies to criminally harass and threaten others and commit frauds, scams and organized violent crimes with little fear of being caught.”

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government introduced the controversial bill in February as the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act – a name critics balked at. The legislation would legally require service providers to hand over a user’s name, address, phone number, Internet protocol (IP) address and e-mail address to police if asked. Authorities would not be able to monitor web surfing habits or e-mail contents.

At the Friday news conference, Deputy Chief Warren Lemcke gave an example of a woman who was sexually assaulted in Vancouver. The woman managed to get the suspect’s cellphone before he fled and detectives called the provider to ask for the owner’s name, he said.

“They refused, without a warrant,” Deputy Chief Lemcke said. “It took 13 days to get the information after that, and by that time, the suspect had left.”

Opponents of the bill have called it warrantless spying and a violation of privacy and civil rights. They also note the information is more than just the “building blocks of an investigation,” as Deputy Chief Lemcke calls it, as an IP address, for example, can be linked to other personal data.

Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, has also pointed out a provision in the bill that would allow service providers to voluntarily hand over personal content – such as web surfing habits or e-mail contents – if asked by police, without fear of liability.

Chief Chu acknowledged the concerns and stressed there are criminal sanctions for anyone who violates lawful access rules. Some wording in the bill also has to be clarified, he said.  

“The way Section 34 is worded suggests that an inspector can search anything, including a Canadian’s private information at a telecommunication provider’s facility, to verify compliance with the act,” he said. “It is easy to understand why some might conclude from such wording that inspectors would have unfettered access to Canadians’ personal records when doing inspections.

“We recognize such inspections are required but the wording in Section 34 needs to be changed to assure Canadians that their personal information will never be part of that inspection.”

Provincial and federal justice ministers are scheduled to meet on the bill next week.

Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, has also pointed out a provision in the bill that would allow service providers to voluntarily hand over personal content ~ such as web surfing habits or e-mail contents ~The world is watching this one.

October 29, 2012

Police across Canada are urging Ottawa to resurrect a controversial Internet surveillance bill that would allow them to monitor Canadians' digital activities in real-time without a warrant.

­The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has made a plea to on the federal government to pass Bill C-30, also known as the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act ahead of a gathering by the provincial and federal justice ministers next week.

The group is concerned that Parliament will be closed down before the legislation is passed.

“We have a fear that it will die on the order paper,” said Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu, who is also the president of the association. “And if it does, then our investigators will be constrained and victims will suffer greater harm because of that,” the Canadian Press reports.

Deputy police chief Warren Lemcke agreed with Chu’s assessment, saying that “right now there are gangsters out there communicating about killing someone and we can't intercept that,” as cited by CBC news.

The legislature, introduced in the Canadian Parliament last February, demands that the country’s telecommunication industry provide law enforcement with the 
authority to intercept communications and to require telecommunications service providers to provide subscriber and other information, without unreasonably impairing the privacy of individuals, the provision of telecommunications services to Canadians or the competitiveness of the Canadian telecommunications industry.”
If passed, the law would also give the police the power to make it a crime to use social media as a tool to injure, alarm or harass individuals. It would also grant access to the individual’s private data such as name, address, phone number and email without a warrant.

The law would ask the companies to place tracking bugs in their programs so that police, if needed, could spy on conversations if they got the necessary legal approvals.

Until now, C-30 has remained shelved by Parliament, and has not been debated after receiving mass criticism when it was originally released.

Critics claimed that the authorities would likely use the powers to harass peaceful protestors and activists.

A number of social media protests were organized, one of which circulated personal details from the divorce files of the bill’s sponsor of the bill-Public Safety Minister’s Vic Toews.

People also marched on the streets, demanding checks to the would-be unlimited police powers.

A public opinion poll conducted by Angus Reid after the bill’s introduction concluded that "the idea of surrendering subscriber data and identifiers without a warrant” is rejected by almost two thirds of Canadians.
More Related to this Story

Stripped from crime bill, online surveillance law not dead despite massive opposition.

The government wants to make providers monitor your personal info online.

How Canada's telecom companies secretly supported Internet surveillance legislation.

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