Internet and wireless carriers still unsure if they’ll have to carry a heavy burden of costs for adding equipment to comply with law
The Harper government has introduced its long-awaited lawful access legislation, tagged with a new name but still missing the assurances Internet service providers and wireless operators want that their costs for implementing the law will be covered.
Now called the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, the 100-page Bill C-30 encompasses three pieces of legislation the government introduced in the last Parliament that requireswired and wireless telecom service providers
–to maintain systems so police can intercept communications with a warrant,
“Rapid changes in technology mean crimes and national security threats are more difficult to investigate,” Toews said Tuesday. “As a result, criminals, gangs and terrorists have found ways to exploit technological innovations to hide their illegal activities. This legislation would give law enforcement and CSIS the investigative tools they need to do their jobs and keep our communities safe.”
Missing from the announcement are the vital regulations that the government proclaims when legislation is finally passed which cover the implementation of laws. Service providers are hoping the regulations spell out if and how their cost of adding equipment to comply with the law will be covered by the government, and, just as important, whether the interception equipment they’ll have to buy will be easily available and affordable.
Few service providers want to talk on the record about the law, but BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada issued this statement:
One area of concern for wireless carriers was additional information outlined in the earlier version of the law that only cellphone companies would have had to hand over to police, said Keith McIntosh, senior director of policy and regulatory affairs for the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), which represents most of the wireless carriers in the country.
“A great deal of cost and complexity can be either come as a result of what’s included in the regs, or what is not required.” The interception equipment carriers will need should be “off the shelf” gear that meets international standards, and not a “made-in-Canada technical solution” — which could be more expensive — McIntosh said. Compensation should not only cover capital expenses but also cover reasonable operational costs, he said.
One myth, it says, is that having access to subscriber information lets police monitor personal communications and information. However, privacy rights supports have never claimed that personal communications can be intercepted. They do say complain will let policy track a person’s movement across the Internet.
Ken Anderson, Ontario’s assistant privacy commissioner said in an interveiw that the deletion of the requirement to hand over mobile equipment and subscriber ID information is a meaningful change. Still, he said police “can still do a lot of profiling” of a subscriber with the other personal information a provider has to give.
Otherwise, he said, C-30 is the same as the previously proposed bills. Which means the Ontario privacy commissioner’s office has the same problems with the legislation:
–Police will have almost complete discretion on who they want information on;
–there’s no public oversight on how much information police gather from service providers and what they do with it;
–and federal and provincial privacy commissioners don’t have the authority or tools to do the audits the legislation requires.