Telus details police requests for subscriber information

The second of the country’s three biggest carriers has lifted the lid on the number of law enforcement and government requests for subscriber information it gets in a year.

Telus Corp. said Thursday that 103,462 requests were made in 2013, of which only 4,314 came from domestic court orders and subpoenas. Another two were court orders to comply with a foreign treaty, usually involving a police department request.

The majority, just over 57,000, were from police departments or agencies like the Coast Guard in emergency situations where someone’s life, health or security was threatened. another 154 dealt with Internet child exploitation emergency assistance requests.

Another 40,900 were requests to check  a subscriber’s same and address. These usually are made to identify an individual associated with
a telephone number, the Telus report said. The carrier had understood that such requests didn’t need a court order and compliance was lawful. However, it added since a Supreme Court of Canada ruling over the summer Telus policy now is only confirm name and address with a oourt order, except in an emergency or where the information is published in a directory.

In June Rogers Communications and ISP TekSavvy became the first to reveal how many requests for subscriber information they get. Only BCE Inc., and its Bell Mobility and Bell Internet subsidiaries have yet to reveal its statistics.

To intercept the actual email, voice or data communications of a subscriber law enforcement agencies need a judicial warrant. However, in recent years police have been increasingly making requests for what they call basic subscriber information — for example, needing to confirm a name they already know — without an order. However, a number of carriers have been uneasy about this. Publicly they kept quiet. Behind closed doors they let the federal government know they had reservations. The Harper government was unmoved.

Then in April a 2011 report by the federal information commissioner emerged stating that year alone 1.2 million requests were made.

Coincidentally, Google released its global transparency report Thurssday stating that  the number of requests its gets from law enforcement and intelligence agencies continue to rise. Excluding orders from special U.S. courts, there’s been  a 15 per cent increase since the second half of last year, and a 150 per cent jump since 2009. In the U.S., those increases are 19 per cent and 250 per cent respectively.

In Canada for the first six months of this year agencies made 27 requests for user information on 33 accounts from Google. By comparison there were 49 requests during the same period in 2013.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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