• Bill C-30 to Give Canadian Authorities Increased Powers in Computer Data Interception and Disclosure
  • April 24, 2012 | Author: Arnaud Gingras-Tremblay
  • Law Firm: Norton Rose Canada LLP - Quebec Office
  • On February 14, 2012, the federal government tabled Bill C-30 in the House of Commons. In essence, the Bill reintroduces earlier proposed anti-cybercrime legislation that died on the Order Paper. The main goal is still to make personal information in the possession of telecommunications service providers more accessible to the various law enforcement and national security authorities when necessary for purposes of conducting investigations.

    Bill C-30 incorporates two measures which, if the bill becomes law, would be binding on telecommunications service providers: the obligation to put in place and maintain capabilities for allowing communications to be intercepted over their networks regardless of the technology used, and the obligation to retain and furnish, on request, certain personal information about their subscribers, i.e., the name, address, telephone number and email address of the subscriber, the Internet protocol address and the local service provider identifier. The RCMP, CSIS, the Competition Bureau or any provincial police force would have the power to compel this information to be produced without a warrant or court order being required.

    Bill C-30 also aims to modernize the tools available to police in conducting their investigations by broadening their investigative powers and creating new judicial production orders for obtaining data relating to the transmission of communications or the location of individuals or things. The Bill would enable orders to be made to compel the preservation of electronic evidence. Lastly, a new type of warrant would allow transmission data to be obtained in real time and tracking devices in certain types of technologies to be activated remotely, thus extending to all means of telecommunications the investigative powers that are currently restricted to data associated with telephones.

    Impact and criticism of Bill C-30
    Canada’s Privacy Commissioner has expressed certain reservations, mainly about the fact that a user’s IP address can be obtained without a warrant and in the absence of reasonable grounds for suspecting criminal activity or of an ongoing criminal investigation. In response to the concerns raised by the Commissioner’s office, the government announced that amendments would be made to the Bill.

    We should also note that while both the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and Quebec’s Act respecting the protection of personal information in the private sector already contain exceptions allowing the authorities to access certain personal information without the consent of the person concerned, the courts have generally limited the use of these exceptions, often reserving them for the most serious criminal offences. Bill C 30, which establishes fewer benchmarks and allows authorities to obtain personal information without a warrant, raises a number of questions. It also comes with a hefty cost for the telecommunications industry, which will be faced with complying with these new legislative requirements.

    Bill C-30 is at the first reading stage and changes are likely to be made before it is adopted.