In his column for the Toronto Star, tech law expert Michael Geist discusses legislation under debate in Canada that would affect government surveillance and individual privacy:
The push for new Internet surveillance capabilities goes back to 1999, when government officials began crafting proposals to institute new surveillance technologies within Canadian networks along with additional legal powers to access surveillance and subscriber information.
The so-called lawful access initiatives stalled in recent years, but earlier this month the government tabled its latest proposal with three bills that received only limited attention despite their potential to fundamentally reshape the Internet in Canada. The bills contain a three-pronged approach focused on information disclosure, mandated surveillance technologies, and new police powers.
The first prong mandates the disclosure of Internet provider customer information without court oversight. Under current privacy laws, providers may voluntarily disclose customer information but are not required to do so.
The new system would require the disclosure of customer name, address, phone number, email address, Internet protocol address, and a series of device identification numbers.
While some of that information may seem relatively harmless, the ability to link it with other data will often open the door to a detailed profile about an identifiable person. Given its potential sensitivity, the decision to require disclosure without any oversight should raise concerns within the Canadian privacy community.
Read the full column for Geist’s take on the other two prongs of the bills’ three-pronged approach.