Canadian Law Enforcement Agency Dropping Cases Rather Than Deal With New Warrant Requirements For ISP Subscriber Info

from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed,-quit dept

A funny thing happens when courts start requiring more information from law enforcement: law enforcers suddenly seem less interested in zealously enforcing the law.

Back in June of this year, Canada’s Supreme Court delivered its decision in R. v. Spencer, which brought law enforcement’s warrantless access of ISP subscriber info to an end.

In a unanimous decision written by (Harper appointee) Justice Thomas Cromwell, the court issued a strong endorsement of Internet privacy, emphasizing the privacy importance of subscriber information, the right to anonymity, and the need for police to obtain a warrant for subscriber information except in exigent circumstances or under a reasonable law.

The effects of this ruling are beginning to be felt. Michael Geist points to a Winnipeg Free Press article that details the halcyon days of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s warrantless access.

Prior to the court decision, the RCMP and border agency estimate, it took about five minutes to complete the less than one page of documentation needed to ask for subscriber information, and the company usually turned it over immediately or within one day.

Five minutes! Amazing. And disturbing. A 5-minute process indicates no one involved made even the slightest effort to prevent abuse of the process. The court’s decision has dialed back that pace considerably. The RCMP is now complaining that it takes “10 hours” to fill out the 10-20 pages required to obtain subscriber info. It’s also unhappy with the turnaround time, which went from nearly immediate to “up to 30 days.”

In response, the RCMP has done what other law enforcement agencies have done when encountering a bit of friction: given up.

“Evidence is limited at this early stage, but some cases have already been abandoned by the RCMP as a result of not having enough information to get a production order to obtain (basic subscriber information),” the memo says.

The RCMP also points out that the 30-day response period will sometimes outlast the 30-day IP log retention period, resulting in information being destroyed before the agency can access it. It also notes that it’s facing a bit of backlash in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision.

Banks, hotels, and car rental companies are reviewing the Supreme Court decision and “a few have signalled less voluntary co-operation” in future.

Yeah, that’s a shame. But it seems to be a feeling that’s becoming increasingly common as the pendulum swings back towards protecting the rights of the public. Several companies have spent years being forced to play the submissive part in this involuntary relationship, handing out an endless number of “how highs” in response to the government’s “jump!” orders. “Less voluntary” is what the future holds for intelligence agencies and law enforcement alike.

If the RCMP is dropping cases because it doesn’t have enough put together to “fulfill the requirements” of its warrant paperwork, then it really doesn’t have enough of a case put together to be demanding that third parties turn over information related to the suspect. It’s that simple. The cases it has dropped obviously aren’t strong enough to justify attempts to gather more information. The warrant requirement is going to turn the RCMP into a better law enforcement agency — one that doesn’t pursue certain investigations just because they’re easy. This forces the RCMP to better evaluate its caseload and cut loose those that suffer from a dearth of information. The RCMP may now be counting up its theoretical losses (the cases that it’s dropping), but Canadian citizens are better protected against ad hoc bulk surveillance and law enforcement fishing expeditions.

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Comments on “Canadian Law Enforcement Agency Dropping Cases Rather Than Deal With New Warrant Requirements For ISP Subscriber Info”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Self-inflicted hardship

And the real kicker is that none of this would have happened, in the US, or in this case Canada, if the police and government agencies had acted responsibly with the tools they had.

If they’d acted in a reasonable manner, only collecting what information they needed on suspects based upon solid evidence of illegal or suspect activity, instead of everything, all the time, and on nothing more than hunches and whims, then there would never had been a push-back against their efforts, but because they went so incredibly overboard, suddenly they’re finding their toys being taken away from them, and are whining like spoiled children as a result.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Self-inflicted hardship

Canada maybe, but not the US. Apparently Canadian judges throw out cases where the police don’t bother with due diligence, but in the US the police are gods who are worshiped by judges.
An armed robbery occurs, and prison records prove the main suspect was in jail when it happened? He’s guilty anyway! An officer strangles an innocent man to death? No crime committed; don’t even bother with a trial!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I agree — the rest is as it should be, but the courts should also not be creating impossibilities for law enforcement; in this case, service providers need to be required to hold on to their pool logs for > 30 days (bad idea) or the process needs to have a more reasonable response time, such as 21 days (still long enough to make it not arduous on the service providers, still short enough that police have time to subpoena the actual pool logs after studying the subscriber data).

Michael Heroux (user link) says:




Michael Heroux said

I don’t know why people are not talking more about why the watchdog of CSIS stepped down. Everyone is saying he stepped down because of a conflict of interest over the pipeline even though he was cleared of any ethics violations. My wife and I have filed numerous privacy complaints with the Privacy Commissioners Office Of Canada to investigate the RCMP CSIS and CSEC but they refuse to help us. They also refuse to help us get our information from The Justice Department Of Canada to look over to see if it correct. We first contacted the Privacy Commissioner Of Canada Jennifer Stoddart on November 26 2013 about our case against the RCMP CSIS and CSEC, then we contacted her again on November 28 2013 about our case and that day she changed her mind against BILL C-13, we submitted our case to her on November 30 2013 and that is the same day she stepped down. She was supposed to retire in 2 days after 10 years of service but she stepped down 2 days early because of our case. We read 5 different news articles on November 30 2013 saying she stepped down and when we went back to read those articles 5 news agencies deleted their story about her stepping down early. The Privacy Commissioner Of Canada sent us a letter and tried to tell us that we contacted her on November 19 2013 just before the bill was given to her but that was false, we never contacted her until November 26 2013 and then we contacted her again November 28 2013, and that day she decided against BILL C-13 because of the abuse and assasination attempts against my family and I. I find it strange the same day I revealed online my full complaint against the RCMP CSIS and CSEC the CSIS watchdog stepped down. Something that we also think is strange is when we contacted the Justice Department Of Canada looking for information they announced 2 days later they are appealing the decision from Judge Mosley and then they wanted to know why we wanted the information and where and what time we were going to use the information before they give it to us. Now they are refusing to give us our information and they said they will not answer any more of our requests. Something else we find funny is we don’t have to enable our browser history anymore. We can clear our cache and our browser history and cookies and all and it is being cached somewhere else downstream from our ISP or maybe upstream somewhere. We think it is probably being cached by the spy in the adjacent suite. Thanks for reading.

My wife and I are the two people Justice Richard Mosley was refering to when he ruled CSIS was end running the law. We have been following this decision very closely, we are being spied on right here in Canada. My wife and I and our 3 children have been abused by the RCMP CSIS CSEC and other police forces in Ontario and British Columbia for over 5 years now. I have a mental disability and the police started harassing my family and I when I started using Craigslist 5 years ago, what can I say, we’re swingers. My wife slept with a few of them while I watched. We are not terrorist. It sounds strange but I have been poisoned and my wife has been poisoned for speaking out publicly about the abuse. We have also been assaulted numerous times in the last 5 years. They are listening to us in our bedroom and living room because they let us know by telling us what we are talking about in the privacy of our home. We contacted the BC Human Rights and Civil Rights office last year because the police were trying to run me and my family over on the streets, but they never got back to us. We got a lawyer a couple years ago and the lawyer was able to get them to lay off for a bit. They sent a gunman to murder us last year, we managed to evade him. It also sounds strange but we have a spy monitoring us right now in the adjacent suite to us and they have been there for 15 months now. Since Judge Mosleys decision they quit harassing us but they are still messing around with our internet and phone communications. Thank God for Judge Mosley, I think he saved our lives. We think the reason they are still watching over us is because of what Judge Mosley refered to as “invasive survailence techniques” used against the people who had those warrants issued on them. They don’t want us to tell anyone about the techniques used against us for the last 5 years. Pretty sophisticated alien technology if I do say so myself. Pretty cool actually but we don’t plan on telling anyone. We are patriotic Canadians and we hate terrorist like everyone else but we don’t want to see people abused. Caught up in the fish net so to speak. They have tried to set us up numerous times for arrest over the last 5 years to get their hands on us and make us look like the bad guy’s but we have managed to evade those attempts also.

My wife and I are concerned because Canada Post is being scaled back and it has got us worried. We use open source software for our operating system. In the last 5 years our privacy has been majorly violated. We are most concerned about our communications being sanitized. We no longer have control over who we can make contact with through electronic means. We can only contact people in person for representation so most people not within our city are off limits to us. We realize we are being followed and are being listened to in the privacy of our own home and our home has been entered numerous times when we are not home by intelligence but our means of communications are being sanitized. 5 years ago we noticed rootkits being installed on our operating systems and I was able to set up honey pots and found they were being installed by the military. Since, we switched to virtual machines from static medium verified with sha512sums (DEBIAN KNOPPIX) to get a malware free system each boot. The only website we use is Craigslist and we have met RCMP agents through Craigslist who wanted us to work for them to help them entrap people from terrorist to gangsters. We believe they were just looking for patsies though. I used to work for the RCMP over 20 years ago to infiltrate criminals and make arrests but I quit working for them because they wanted me to set people up that weren’t even breaking the law. For the last 5 years we have used Gmail and we have had numerous internet suppliers and numerous Gmail accounts and we have noticed people we have been emailing and people emailing us have not been getting the emails even though Gmail says they have been sent. We use an SSL connection so our communications are encrypted. The same thing applies to our text messages, we have used Rogers for internet, text and phone for the last 5 years. We have noticed our posting on certains forums are not showing up or they are being deleted as we are writing them right before our eyes or our browsers are being closed as we are writing stuff. Our computers are being shut down and our cell phones are being shut down as we are trying to correspond with people. We have realized that people have been contacting us through our email and our cell phones claiming to be people we know like family members for instance but we know they are imposters. We have tried contacting Human and Civil Rights advocates through electronic means but have had no replies. We have even tried to contact legal representation through electronic means but have never heard anything back over the years. It sounds strange but a gunman was sent to kill us early last year but we managed to evade him. Shortly after that someone tried hiring a hitman through the SILK ROAD website to kill us. At first when the website was taken down by the FBI the owner said the hit was for a father of 3 from Vancouver but later he admitted it was for the whole family of 5, a husband, wife and 3 children. We have been poisoned numerous times in the last 5 years and I have numerous painful swollen lumps throughout my body. Strangers have come up to us on the streets and have told us I have cancer. I went to the emergency room last year because my brain was swelling in my head and my eyes were bulging and I was having severe headaches and the doctor didn’t want to treat me and sent me home. Thanks for reading.

Dismembered3po (profile) says:

I kind see the RCMPs point on one thing

Canada allows only 30-day retention of IP logs?

That is freaking awesome.

Canada stiffens the warrant requirements to get the info?

Seriously super cool.

However, I do kina see the point about the conflict in timing here.

If there us a legitimate cause for an investigation, and law enforcement legit satisfies the warrant requirements, it does seem like the information should then be able to be examined. It can’t be if it no longer exists.

Anonymous Coward says:

yet i thought Canada has gone into a Trade Deal which will bring ACTA type rules into play? doesn’t that give law enforcement a different set of rules which are beneficial to getting personal information from, amongst others, ISPs? i hope there is a bit of a change if true and Canadian citizens find out and fight back!!


Paperwork vital

This article highlights the depths to which our law enforcement officers have gone. The attitude towards menial paper work is obvious as officers usually do not use their intelligence, thinking skills in completing reports. Practice makes perfect, the more one does a chore the easier it becomes. Their reports are vital for the justice procedure, aids in justice being served, and reports like these are used by other departments within the Criminal Justice system.
Many officers will acknowledge that they resort to the quickest and simplest means of achieving their duties. The new “toys” now available such as drones (eliminates footwork), tasers (subdue at a distance no physical effort), overuse of helicopters & armoured vehicles (TAVs) for ONE suspect.
Officers use all of your talents from physical to mental to intellect to common sense in accomplishing your duties.

Just Another Anonymous Troll says:

The dropping cases is probably all part of an evil plan. All you need is one good public crime that isn’t stopped and then the LEA pipes up and says, “Oh, we would have stopped that guy but we couldn’t get a warrant and so he got away.” Public opinion turns against good warrant requirements, laws are passed to let agencies spy more, and the evil spymaster chuckles softly to himself.

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