Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Keeping an eye on the ball that is C-30

More on C-30 here. On the one hand, there was this presentation from a Vancouver police official yesterday:
“People need to focus and keep their eye on the ball,” said Warren Lemcke, Vancouver’s deputy chief constable.

“We can’t monitor your e-mails. We can’t monitor your phone calls. We can’t monitor your surfing unless a judge allows us to do that.”
Elsewhere his statement was reported this way:
“We still need warrants in every single circumstance to listen to your phone calls, to look at your emails, to look at your text messages — except under exigent circumstances,” said Lemcke.
On the other hand, the federal privacy commissioner's office seems to view things differently from Vancouver police official Lemcke:
In a telephone interview with CBC News on Sunday, Chantal Bernier, the assistant privacy commissioner of Canada, said there are "sources of concern" with Bill C-30.

According to Bernier, under this legislation "the government would create an obligation for internet service providers to give, upon written request from designated officers without any judicial authorization, the subscriber information behind an IP address."

"Our technologists tell us, that those data elements, are enough to construct enough of a profile to then track the online activities of an individual — and that without a warrant, without having to prove suspicion of criminal activity," said Bernier.
The police, who seem to be stepping up now in the wake of the discrediting of Vic Toews as a spokesperson on C-30, are shooing us in other directions, playing up the need for warrants for emails and phone calls. But we shouldn't take our eyes off what is still on the table, as the Privacy Commissioner's Office points out, above. The ability to profile law abiding Canadians and their online activities remains, courtesy of sections 16 and 17 of the proposed legislation (and see s. 64(1)(l) providing for regulations which will further define those sections but at a future date).

See also this blog post from December, "Vic Toews will get way more than your phone number," which set out how the lawful access legislation can work: "Online subscriber data creates a living, breathing, ongoing information trail and a profile, all trackable courtesy of the lawful access legislation and all obtainable without a warrant." See the various links cited there for a more technical explanation of how police can build that user profile.

People need to focus and keep their eye on the ball, said the Vancouver chief...yes, they do.