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Warrantless ISP information requests

Mark Goldberg is a bulldog.  In his ongoing crusade to protect kids on the internet, he continues to leave no stone unturned.  Case in point?  In October, Online Rights Canada circulated an ISP Privacy Pledge, asking ISPs to pledge to “not respond to law enforcement requests for personal information about users unless the request is supported by a warrant or court order”.

At the time, he wrote a piece critical of this pledge, pointing out that it would interfere with investigations into child abuse.  He’s right.  It would, because the warrant process is a high bar to cross.  At the same time, many others, including me, objected to the idea that police might be able to conduct warrantless searches of ISPs in violation of subscriber privacy. Individuals have a right not to be subject to police surveillance indiscriminately. 

Today, Mark writes about the processes that ISPs have independently developed with police.  You can go read it for yourself.  It hinges on the fact that in Canadian law bare bones name and address information of the type that you might find in the telephone directory isn’t considered private information. The Canadian ISP industry and police forces have come up with a speedy “letter of authority” model for requesting this information from ISPs to assist them in their investigations.

That’s supportable, legal, and a reasonable compromise.   

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