Why ISPs Should Demand To See A Warrant Before Handing Over Customer Information

from the protecting-privacy dept

For some time, law enforcement has been trying to put more pressure on ISPs to crack down and monitor the behavior of their customers. In some cases, lawmakers have tried to pin liability on ISPs, which is rather misguided since the ISP is not the culpable party. In Canada, officials are upset at some ISPs for a perceived lack of cooperation when it comes to investigations of sex criminals use the web. What it boils down to is that ISPs don't want to give out personal information on their customers without a warrant. Meanwhile, investigators think it's a ridiculous demand to have to get a warrant every time they need information. Some might wonder why the ISPs are adamant on this issue, particularly since they are in a position to help out in a serious issue, and they're not being asked to shoulder a major burden. But requiring a warrant is a check against abuse; without them it's hard for ISPs to judge the legitimacy and seriousness of a request. By valuing privacy, they better serve their customers, and ensure that law enforcement is only pursuing cases within the scope of the law.


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  1.  
    identicon
    anon, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 2:45pm

    ISPs are

    Having worked for a Canadian ISP as a privacy conscious citizen, I know that many of my coworkers (including some of my former supervisors) would readily rat out a customer as soon as someone on the phone said they were law enforcement. Demanding a warrant is the only safe-guard against abuse and people need to be aware they should be asking the law enforcement officer for a warrant.

    This isn't just a matter of protecting the privacy of these individuals but also a matter of due process. Would you rather ask for a warrant so the sex offender gets another day or two while the warrant is procured, or would you rather that the sex offender never sees jail because the judge tosses out the case since the information on them was not legally obtained? I'd rather see those pervs going straight to jail then get off on technicalities.

     

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  2.  
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    Jamil, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 5:18pm

    ISPs

    Me being a customer agree with wat Anon has written. I think that the law enforcement official should be worrying about covering all the technicalities and not giving the perp a chance to escape just becasue they cant handle the beraucracy of their work.

     

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  3.  
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    anon, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 5:34pm

    gimme a break

    How hard is it to get a warrant? For crying out loud, all you need is a brief affidavit and a judge's signature. In emergencies, a judge can issue a warrant over the telephone.

    I have to laugh (to avoid crying) whenever I see something like this: law enforcement wanting to lower the barrier to accessing information in the name of , in this instance, "saving the children. " There are very good reasons these rules exist. Eroding our rights and protections over a false issue such as the inconvienience in obtaining warrants is ridiculous and scary.

     

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  4.  
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    Prodiem, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 5:38pm

    Badges? we don't need no stinkn badges!

    I can see the annoyance from the law enforcement perspective. I have report that this ip just solicited sex from a 13 year old and I want the perv now!
    Due process is top on priority, but could there be an alternative process to take into account a time sensitve issue?

     

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  5.  
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    |3331373|3|_||3, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 6:11pm

    I'm from law enforcement

    So I say when I go to Adam, and they punch me in the face and ask for a warrant. I say that to telstra, and it takes them a week to log in tot hier computer owing to the combined effect of thier crappy equipment and thier inability to do anything without three coffee bearks and a smoko.

    Either way, its not so bad here in Adelaide, either the ISp are good and will ask for a warrant, and probalby argue about it anyway, then be creatively incompetent and not hand over anything, or they are so hopeless that it makes no odds what they do, since the data is both wrong and six months late.

    Internode is the only one who would cooperate, and they would still demand a warrant or court order, but wiould hand over accurate data on time.

     

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  6.  
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    ScytheNoire, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 7:41pm

    Legal system for a reason

    It's insane to think they wouldn't require a warrant. There is a legal system for a reason, and that's because of the sheer abuse by law enforcement in the past trying to pin crimes on people just to close a case. Face it, with the amount of corruption in the legal system, the least they can do is get a warrant. The sex offender, or whatever they may be chasing down, isn't going to know about them getting the warrant on him, since they don't even know there is an investigation going on about them.

    There is just way too much abuse right now and people's rights are being tossed out the door, simply because the legal system has gotten lazy and they want supreme power to do anything they want. Innocent people have rights too.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 9:09am

    |3331373|3|_||3 needs a spellchecker

    With spelling and grammar like that, it's no wonder your warrants are served 6 months late.

    If the ISP and/or Police Dept require a decoder ring to decipher what the hell you wrote, it's going to take a lot longer to process.

     

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  8.  
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    AnyMouse, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Badges? we don't need no stinkn badges!

    "I can see the annoyance from the law enforcement perspective. I have report that this ip just solicited sex from a 13 year old and I want the perv now!
    Due process is top on priority, but could there be an alternative process to take into account a time sensitve issue?"

    If a warrant is not required, what is to stop the perv that is soliciting sex from a 13 year old from calling the ISP and getting the address of the 13 year old 'because he is a law enforcemnt officer and needs to bust this guy now' (assuming the 13 year old is smart enough to not give out their address).

    There is a reason for due process, if there were no restrictions, the informaiton would be freely available to anyone who wanted to abuse the system.

     

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  9.  
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    Solo, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 11:52pm

    Err... checks and balances? Different powers in the hands of different people anyone?

    Law enforcement: make sure the law is applied
    Judicial branch: interpret the law and apply to concrete cases.

    The reason to need a warrant is to make sure the law enforcement part got their things right and there is sufficient suspicion that a law is broken (remember, only the judges can tell you if the law is broken, the law enforcement can only bring someone before a judge)

    If you don't need a warrant to ransack through ISP records (because there is no difference between requesting one address vs 7,500) then you don't need judges anymore. The country will be happily run by cops that will go from arresting you to carrying sentences (do not pass through the courthouse ,there is no judgement per se)

    Clearly we're better off maintaining those separations where all the power does not fall into too few hands.

     

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