Want to know one reason why the Canadian government's proposed Bill C-52, referred to as the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act, is so horrible? Just look at what recently happened in Belarus. According to Boing Boing (Report: Belarusian mobile operators gave police list of demonstrators - Boing Boing), mobile operators in that country have cooperated with the secret police to identify people who were present at an anti-government demonstration. Shocking.
Bill C-52 gives the same tools to the Canadian secret and not-quite-secret police. Section 16 of Bill C-52 requires all telecommunciations service providers to hand over enormous quantities of customer information to the police, CSIS or the competition cops. There is no limit on the amount of information to be provided and is only restricted to "duties" of the cops or intelligence agency. In addition, the law just says that the following information has to be provided:
- telephone number,
- electronic mail address,
- Internet protocol address,
- mobile identification number,
- electronic serial number,
- local service provider identifier,
- international mobile equipment identity number,
- international mobile subscriber identity number and
- subscriber identity module card number.
Usually, the cops say they need help chasing down a customer name and address when they have an IP address, but the bill doesn't say that if the cops have X info, they can get Y subscriber data. Instead, it just says on request the telco has to hand over the entire laundry list of data on customers. And this is without a warrant or any sworn justification of any kind. Unlike wiretap laws where stats have to be released, there is no obligation on the part of the police or the ministers responsible to release information about how these powers are used and under what circumstances.
If the police are able to scan the airwaves at a protest and pick out the IMEIs of all the phones present, telcos would have to hand over a list of all the names, addresses, etc of their customers upon request. I can't really see a limitation in the statute that would prevent the police from asking for all the above data for any subscribers who connected, for example, to any cell site in a particular neighbourhood at a particular time. How handy would that be to track down everyone who was present near the G-20 protests in Toronto.
If we're shocked at what repressive regimes are doing to their citizens, we shouldn't be giving our own governments tools to be repressive.(The good news, if there is any, is that the Bill was introduced on November 1, 2010 and doesn't seem to be going anywhere fast. But don't count it out yet.)