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,
--and to provide basic subscriber information to designated police, Canada’s spy agency (CSIS) and federal Competition Bureau officials upon request without a warrant.
Subscriber information includes subscriber name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, the Internet protocol address, and the name of the service provider. That's a significant change: The earlier version of the legislation would have required wireless carriers to also hand over a subscriber's international mobile equipment ID number, mobile subscriber ID number and subscriber identity module (SIN) card number.
The earlier legislation was called the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronics Communications Act. It isn’t clear why the name has changed, although Public Safety Minister Toews has often criticized those who attacked the proposed legislation as supporters of online child pornographers.
"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.”
However, civil and privacy rights activists say there is no need for police agencies to get Internet or wireless subscriber information without a warrant.
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.