lawful access

Bill C-30 Killed – Replacement On The Way

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has stated that Bill C-30 will not proceed in Parliament in response to the concerns brought up by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and members of the public.

This bill would have enabled police to access internet traffic without a warrant and would have required the installation and maintenance of extra equipment by internet providers, who would have passed the associated expenditures down to the consumer.

Canadians would not only have lost rights in regards to privacy but could have also been subjected to security breaches via the new aforementioned online spying equipment had this bill gone through.

A new bill will be unveiled shortly in Parliament so additional information will be posted to this blog a.s.a.p.

Major Blunder On Lawful Access

Apparently Minister of Public Safety Vic Towes introduced Bill C-30 in the House Of Commons without full knowledge of the content of this bill.

When questioned about Section 17 of this bill on CBC Radio program The House today, the Minister was surprised by the provisions included in that section.

“This is the first time that I’m hearing this somehow extends ordinary police emergency powers [to telecommunications]. In my opinion, it doesn’t. And it shouldn’t.”

In response to this interview New Democrat leadership candidate Paul Dewar has issued a statement asking Vic Toews to resign :

“First he introduced Bill C-30 which undermines Canadians’ online privacy. Then he accused Canadians who raised privacy concerns of supporting child pornography. Today we learned that he had not even reviewed the most intrusive provisions of the bill before introducing it in the House of Commons.”

Bill C-30 is currently in committee.

“We Will Entertain Amendments”

In response to concerns about privacy and judicial oversight, the Conservative government has stated that they would be open to amendments to Bill C-30 in committee.

Cited as the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act, this bill enables the RCMP, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Commissioner of Competition and police services through-out Canada access to subscriber information without warrants whilst investigating offenses under their mandate.

On March 9th, 2011, a joint statement by the federal and provincial privacy commissioners of Canada was issued in response to the previous proposed legislation. And the concerns listed in that statement and in the October 26th, 2011 statement issued by the Office of The Privacy Commissioner of Canada remain with Bill C-30.

Unfortunately there is also some concern in regards to the interpretation of evidence and preconceptions related to certain activities, like the use of peer to peer services or file services like Megaupload.

Yes, peer to peer programs are being used for illegal activities, as did Megaupload. But does it mean that all activity on these services are suspicious, requiring the collection of information from the users of these services ?

Section 16, subsection (2)(b) may also enable foreign police services to access this information, which could then be subject to their local laws and their inherent weaknesses.

Groups like Anonymous have been able to hack into many of the aforementioned police services so how secure will the information be ? And what’s to stop criminals from abusing section 17, which compels internet and cell phone providers to give private information to any police officer upon receipt of an oral request ?

Hopefully these issues will be addressed with much more than the false dichotomy Canadians have been subjected to lately.

Lawful Access = Higher Internet Fees

There’s no way around it. Lawful access will be costly to consumers in Canada.

The internet providers do not have the necessary technology and manpower to give law enforcement in Canada real time access to internet communications, especially the smaller internet providers. And these extra expenditures will be passed on to Canadians.

We are talking about technology used to distinguish criminal activity from normal internet traffic and according to Statistic Canada‘s Canadian Internet Use Survey, 79% of Canadian households accessed the internet in 2010.

The task is not only overwhelming but could possibly be open to abuse and security breaches.

After all, we are talking about individual internet providers here, some of which use different technologies to secure their networks. And I’m sure there are plenty of identity thieves that would love to access the weaker of these networks, some of which are probably tied to the criminal organizations our law enforcement is trying to expose with this legislation.

The 2011 Canadians and Privacy Survey conducted by Harris/Decima for The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada found that 8 out of 10 Canadians opposed this legislation because of numerous concerns about privacy and security. And in 2009, Statistics Canada found that 48% of Canadian consumers were concerned about credit card purchases online.

Is this really the time to make consumers nervous about security and privacy online ?

Lawful Access Missing For Latest Proposals

It appears the Conservative Government has omited lawfull access from their latest crime reform bill, named the “Safe Streets and Communities Act“, which was tabled today.

Lawful access may be introduced later. But it appears that the 70,000+ signature Openmedia.ca petition may have caused this delay and may result in a more indepth review of this proposal.

Lawful Access – Consumer Unfriendly

The Conservative Government wishes to re-introduce legislation enabling law enforcement to access online communications without a warrant.

They believe that this would help them combat terrorism and crime. But unfortunately they may rely on internet providers to retain information on their behalf, which could be costly for the consumer because the internet providers would require more equipment and personel to do so.

In searching for illicit activity online our internet providers will be required to store vast amounts of information and these extra expendatures will be passed down to their subscribers.

According to a 2002 Statistics Canada report, law enforcement are hindered by the use of pseunomyms, anonymous remailers, dial-up connections and public wi-fi.

One can only imagine how much information would be required to keep track of suspects that use “public Internet stations in airports, bus depots, libraries, cyber-caf├ęs and convenience stores” alone, examples mentioned in the report.

Anyone using any of the above mentioned services would have their information catalogued and accessible for cross referencing and analysis, which is not only a burden on resources at the internet providers but may result in a violation of our privacy laws according to the Office Of The Privacy Commissioner Of Canada.

In an October 27th, 2009 letter to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, the Privacy Commissioner stated :

“Though isolated anecdotes abound, and extreme incidents are generally referred to, no systematic case has yet been made that demonstrates a need to circumvent the current legal regime for judicial authorization to obtain personal information. Before all else, law enforcement and national security authorities need to explain how the current provisions on judicial warrants do not meet their needs.”

The aforementioned 2002 Statistics Canada report may claim a lack of standard in cybercrime statistics, possibly resulting in a lack of classification or reporting of these crimes. But crime in Canada is down according to this June 2011 Statistics Canada report.

These costly, potentially insecure systems, are not required. Law enforcement has managed quite well with the current regulations, even with their limited manpower, and the flood of information will probably overwhelm them requiring costly automation.

This is, in my opinion, not the way to go. And this is why i’ve signed the following Openmedia.ca petition :

Please sign the above petition and contact your local Member of Parliament about this issue as soon as possible, preferably before September 19th. Thank you.