Canadian Police Chiefs: 'RESOLVED: The Warrant Requirement For ISP Subscriber Data Makes Our Job Harder. Please Fix.'

from the WHEREAS-whine-complain-bitch-moan dept

Canada’s law enforcement agencies are still enduring the growing pains of having to respect the privacy and civil rights of Canadian citizens. It’s apparently killing them.

At the peak of their power, Canadian law enforcement agencies were asking for ISP subscriber data every 27 seconds. Nearly 1.2 million requests were made in in 2011 alone. That number likely increased over the next couple of years before a Supreme Court decision brought this harvesting to a halt with the introduction of a warrant requirement in 2014 . Prior to that, the only thing keeping Canadian cops from requesting data at an even faster rate was the “five minutes of paperwork” occasionally demanded of them.

Since the warrant requirement went into effect, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have adopted two tactics to deal with the additional stipulations:

1. Complaining about it (using graphic child abuse imagery, of course).

2. Tossing cases.

Can’t win. Won’t try. That’s the indomitable law enforcement spirit officials are always praising when asking for donations and votes.

The Canadian law enforcement community is now deploying the third prong of its attack on the inconvenience of securing warrants: a strongly-worded resolution backed by the collective power of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. (h/t Jordan Pearson at Vice)

According to the CACP, the government owes Canadian law enforcement immediate access to subscriber information at all times. The resolution begins with this assertion, which everyone is apparently supposed to treat as an long-acknowledged fact.

WHEREAS law enforcement requires real-time, or near real-time access to basic subscriber (customer name and address) information (BSI) as it relates to telecommunications’ customers for investigative reasons…

It then points out what the Supreme Court decision changed (officially recognized Canadian citizens’ privacy interest in their own subscriber data) before complaining that ISPs are getting all uppity with them when they show up without a warrant.

WHEREAS since the Spencer decision, the telecommunications companies refuse to provide any basic subscriber information (BSI) in the absence of an exigent circumstance, or a judicial warrant or order, even where there exists no reasonable expectation of privacy…

Well, gee, if we leave the decision of where the “expectation of privacy” lies in the hands of law enforcement, we get what we already got: subscriber data requests every 27 seconds. So, we know law enforcement can’t be trusted to make that decision.

And it’s not the ISPs place to make “expectation of privacy” determinations. These companies should do what they’re doing: demand warrants and court orders. But law enforcement views this as a form of obstruction, albeit a form supported by a court decision.

The resolution’s next “WHEREAS” tosses out another assertion everyone’s just supposed to agree with, because who’s more trustworthy than a group of cops?

WHEREAS there exists no lawful authority designed specifically to require the provision of basic subscriber information, and the problems posed by this gap in the law are particularly acute where there exists no reasonable expectation of privacy in that information.

This complaint/assertion is basically: “We can’t make ISPs do anything the law no longer compels them to do.” That’s kind of how laws are supposed to work. So, the problem is the ruling… and the solution is a legislative undoing of the court’s ruling.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police supports the creation of a reasonable law designed to specifically provide law enforcement the ability to obtain, in real-time or near real-time, basic subscriber information (BSI) from telecommunications providers.

BE IT RESOLVED: legislative time machine. Law enforcement wants to go back to its pre-Supreme Court decision form, where demands were made (and met) quickly and with a minimum of paperwork or privacy considerations. Nowhere in the in-depth explanation of its “problem” and proposed resolution does it discuss a more limited framework for warrantless requests. The CACP wants the legislature to undo the terrible wrong it has suffered at the hands of the Supreme Court. There are no compromises offered. Canadian cops simply want to be able to freely demand subscriber info without having to jump through any privacy-protecting hoops.

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Comments on “Canadian Police Chiefs: 'RESOLVED: The Warrant Requirement For ISP Subscriber Data Makes Our Job Harder. Please Fix.'”

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24 Comments
tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s just too difficult getting a warrant …

Five minutes (filling out a warrant request) is eleven times as long as this used to take! That perp could be dropping his provider and signing up with another one in that time! Not only that, but this is multiplying the cost in cop time by eleven. Do you have any idea how much money that is? Cop time isn’t free, you know? We wanted to buy more attack helicopters and drones. How do we do that when money’s pouring through the cracks in the floor like this?

Bad Guys(TM) are getting away!

Sigh. This’s just the latest in the CAFC’s yearly follies. They appear to come up with some weird draconian demand every time they meet. No, it’s not even a little annoying that we have to pay them to do this every time they meet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Reasonable law

It seems to me that it is eminently reasonable that the cops be required to convince a neutral third party that this is necessary, and that such third party retain and publish appropriate records thereof. I hear that neutral third parties can sometimes be found working in specialized courts designed for rendering just this sort of judgement.

Anonymous Coward says:

I will give them what they want, if I can go into any police station in Canada, use their log on and look at what they are doing at any time. So if they want unlimited access that’s fine, as long as all Canadians have unlimited access to what ever they are doing at any time with no restrictions.

Ya I know good luck with that.

phils says:

Once again we see a law enforcement agency taking a privilege they’ve been granted to deal with true emergency cases and abusing that privilege to deal with almost every case. It takes a while but eventually the public and their representatives and the courts wake up to what is going on and slap down the law enforcement entities.

In short: You abuse, you lose!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Let's just ignore the elephant in the room shall we...?

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police supports the creation of a reasonable law designed to specifically provide law enforcement the ability to obtain, in real-time or near real-time, basic subscriber information (BSI) from telecommunications providers.

Here’s the thing. Unless I’m mistaken, or the law is drastically different in Canada than it is in the US on matters like this…

They can already do this.

They absolutely can get the data they want from telecom providers, the only thing that it requires is that they make a case before a judge that they need it, get a warrant for it, and present the warrant to the telecom provider(s).

If they have sufficient evidence that they actually need such data, they absolutely can get access to it, so what they’re really whining about is the fact that they actually have to provide proof before they can go browsing through the data that they actually have a need, rather than just a desire, to do so.

FREEEEEEDOM!!! says:

That is why I use a VPN now.

I find it amazing that if it weren’t for Snowden, Canadians may never have learned what their police forces were up to. Is getting a warrant from a judge, whom will more than likely approve the majority of them anyways, really the problem Canadian police are making it out to be with all their whining? I highly doubt it.

The only way I’d agree with such demands is if they can truthfully show the public what the ratio is between successful convictions and each attempt at accessing subscriber information/metadata. I’m willing to bet it’s some ridiculously low number, proving only that the creation of a new law requiring warrants was thoroughly justified.

All of those revelations were the primary reason why I finally gave in to the idea of using a good VPN service. Setup was painless, requiring only that I make sure my firewall rules were correctly configured to prevent private information from leaking via DNS and the like, as well has make sure certain apps can only connect when the VPN connection is active.

The anti-piracy/anti-privacy movement loves telling those in power that the only people who use VPN’s and encryption in general are copyright infringing criminals or worse, but that simply isn’t true at all. If it wasn’t for the government spying on a public it’s supposed to protect and represent, I’d still be torrenting without one today and I’m betting it’s the same for most of the others out there. What federal agencies have been doing is wrong and choosing to use a VPN was my way of giving those watching the middle finger.

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