Privacy czar sees middle ground in fight over access to Internet customer info

OTTAWA -- The federal privacy czar says there are instances when police may not need a warrant to obtain "very limited sets" of Internet customer information.

See Full Article

There could be a way to meet at least some law-enforcement demands for warrantless access to information while respecting a key Supreme Court of Canada ruling, privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien said in an interview.

In June last year, the Supreme Court ruled police must have a judge's authorization to obtain customer data linked to online activities.

The high court rejected the notion the federal privacy law governing companies allowed them to hand over subscriber identities voluntarily.

Police say telecommunications companies and other service providers -- such as banks and rental companies -- now demand court approval for nearly all types of requests from authorities for basic identifying information.

The Supreme Court judgment came amid mounting public concern about authorities quietly gaining access to customer data with little independent scrutiny.

Last month RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said police need warrantless access to Internet subscriber information to keep pace with child predators and other online criminals.

The top Mountie said the Supreme Court ruling curtailing the flow of basic data about customers -- such as name and address -- had "put a chill on our ability to initiate investigations."

Therrien noted that in keeping with the court's ruling, subscriber information largely raises reasonable expectations of privacy and therefore a warrant would be needed to obtain it.

"Normally it will, largely it will," Therrien said. "But there may be some elements of information that would not raise reasonable expectations of privacy. So there may be some room for an administrative regime for very limited sets or circumstances of information -- I recognize that."

Therrien said it was difficult to provide a specific example of the kind of information that might be accessible to police under an administrative scheme, but invoked the analogy of the public telephone book.

"Telephone numbers, perhaps, in certain circumstances might not attract a reasonable expectation of privacy. I wouldn't go beyond that, and even then it depends on the circumstances," he said.

"But if the RCMP is asking to have administrative access for large amounts of information, well, that clearly would go against what the Supreme Court said."

Rogers Communications has said that prior to the Supreme Court ruling, it was company policy when presented with a listed phone number to confirm basic customer information like name and address, so that police didn't issue a warrant for the wrong person or company.

Rogers also had a special process to help with child sexual exploitation investigations by confirming a customer's name and address when provided with a computer's Internet Protocol (IP) address. This would allow police to obtain a search or arrest warrant.

Since June 2014, the company said, it has responded to these two kinds of requests only when presented with a court order or warrant, or in emergency circumstances as defined by the Criminal Code.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Climate change contributing to urban 'heat islands' raising costs for cities

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Heat trapped by dark-coloured roads and buildings will more than double cities' costs for tackling global warming this century by driving up energy demand to keep citizens cool and by aggravating pollution, scientists said on Monday. Source
  • Stunning display of northern lights captured by photographers

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Did you see them? You may have been tucked into bed or inside, but on Saturday night and early Sunday morning, the sky erupted in a stunning display of northern lights that many people were able to capture with cameras. Source
  • In Canada, parks thrive but conservationists cry foul

    Tech & Science CTV News
    On a highway in Banff National Park in western Canada, tourists hastily park their cars to catch a glimpse of a bear at the edge of the forest. "We've seen some amazing animal life up here, much more than a lot of other places that we've gone camping," Tony Garland, a 60-something American who drove up from Seattle, told AFP. Source
  • Human-made chemicals found in higher quantities in deep ocean

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Human-made chemicals are penetrating deeper into the North Atlantic, a new study has found. Remember CFCs? Production of the ozone-depleting chemicals was largely phased out globally in 1994. But almost 25 years later, researchers are finding them in increasing amounts in the deeper, "older" parts of the ocean. Source
  • 'O Canada': Researcher mounts microscopic flag on penny to celebrate 150 years

    Tech & Science CBC News
    It's the smallest tribute to Canada that you'll ever see. McMaster University research engineer Travis Casagrande has carved a microscopic, 3D Canadian flag on the face of a penny. The carving — which is one one-hundredth the size of a human hair and invisible to the naked eye — is meant to be a celebration of Canada's 150th birthday this year, and a showcase of the microscopes at the Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy at the university. Source
  • No public memorial for Harambe planned as Cincinnati Zoo looks ahead

    Tech & Science CTV News
    CINCINNATI -- No public events are planned at the Cincinnati Zoo marking the one-year anniversary of the shooting of an endangered gorilla. The zoo's dangerous-animal response team concluded the life of a 3-year-old boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure last May 28 was in danger and killed 17-year-old Harambe. Source
  • If U.S. quits climate deal, Earth expected to warm dangerously

    Tech & Science CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Earth is likely to reach more dangerous levels of warming even sooner if the U.S. retreats from its pledge to cut carbon dioxide pollution, scientists said. That's because America contributes so much to rising temperatures. Source
  • Mother of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick killed in boat accident

    Tech & Science CTV News
    FRESNO, Calif. -- The mother of the CEO of the ride-hailing company Uber died in a boat accident Friday evening in Fresno County, the company said. Bonnie Kalanick, 71, died after the boat she and her husband, Donald, 78, were riding hit a rock in Pine Flat Lake in the eastern part of the county, authorities said. Source
  • G7 leaders agree to fight protectionism, U.S. still not on board on climate agreement

    Tech & Science CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to include a pledge to fight trade protectionism in a final communique due to be released later on Saturday at the end of a summit of Group of Seven leaders, a G7 source said. Source
  • Trapped 'like a caged animal': Climate change taking toll on mental health of Inuit

    Tech & Science CBC News
    As millions of Canadians eagerly anticipate the arrival of warm weather, many people living in Canada's North will be lamenting the end of winter. For the Inuit, milder temperatures mean the sea ice is melting, making travel more difficult. Source