VICE News

Ottawa Drafted Plans to Allow Warrantless Access of Your Data While Still ‘Consulting’ the Public

Documents obtained by VICE News show the government wanted to restart a program that had been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and kept secret a report about their plans,

by Justin Ling
Mar 25 2017, 5:12pm

The federal government began moving forward on new legislation that would allow police to obtain Canadians' data without a warrant — even as they ran a national consultation that feigned indecision on the issue.

The warrantless access program had been previously declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada.

New documents, obtained by VICE News under access to information laws, relate to meetings of a federal-provincial working group on cybercrime that had recommended proceeding with new legislation to restart that program. The details of what, exactly, that legislation would look like are contained in a report that Ottawa has refused to make public, against the advice of its own civil service.

The documents add to a wealth of information obtained by VICE News that show the Trudeau government has been working to build support for broad new investigative powers, all while keeping information about RCMP and CSIS surveillance tactics out of the public domain.

The program that Ottawa is looking to reboot allowed police, spy agencies, and possibly others to obtain Canadians' data and personal information without a warrant from telecommunications companies and others. While the government argued in court that this practise, which often came with no paper trail at all, was simply a way through which police could obtain "basic subscriber information" which linked a phone number or IP address to a name and address.

But media reports, including from VICE, and evidence entered into the Supreme Court case showed that the program was consistently used to obtain personal information that should require a warrant. The court found that the program, by design, was an attempt to "link a specific person … to specific online activities." It concluded it was an infringement on Canadians' privacy and ordered it to end, except in emergency situations.

Read the rest at VICE News.