Michael Geist: The Privacy Threats in Bill C-13, Part Two: The Low Threshold for Metadata

InsightaaS: In a recent industry roundtable session, we were involved in a discussion of threats to our digital rights and privacy – and the unique, essential role played by Michael Geist in protecting those rights and freedoms for Canadians. The discussion provided a timely reminder, as Geist has now posted Part 2 of his analysis of proposed Bill C-13. In it, Geist notes that “Research demonstrates that transmission data – now commonly described as metadata – has significant privacy implications” and argues persuasively that “The government would like Canadians to believe that invoking the existence of court oversight is enough to address the privacy concerns in Bill C-13. But with the privacy significance of metadata and the low threshold established by the proposed transmission data warrant, the bill’s lawful access provisions are the source of genuine privacy concerns.” We would add that it is critical that we take the time to understand these issues and to support those who are working to prevent erosion of digital freedoms. As the means of tracking and connecting data increase, so too do the ways in which cyberscrutiny can have a negative impact on our lives.

My first post on the privacy threats in Bill C-13 focused on the voluntary disclosure of personal information and the complete civil and criminal immunity granted to intermediaries such as ISPs and telecom companies that provide such disclosures. This post focuses on the low threshold the bill establishes for a new “transmission data” warrant and explains why this represents a serious privacy risk.


The bill defines transmission data as data that:

(a) relates to the telecommunication functions of dialling, routing, addressing or signalling;
(b) is transmitted to identify, activate or configure a device, including a computer program as defined in subsection 342.1(2), in order to establish or maintain access to a telecommunication service for the purpose of enabling a communication, or is generated during the creation, transmission or reception of a communication and identifies or purports to identify the type, direction, date, time, duration, size, origin, destination or termination of the communication;
(c) does not reveal the substance, meaning or purpose of the communication.


The bill creates a new warrant that allows a judge to order the disclosure of transmission data where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence has been or will be committed, the identification of a device or person involved in the transmission will assist in an investigation, or will help identify a person. The government relies on the fact that this is a warrant with court oversight to support the claim that Canadians should not be concerned by this provision. Yet the reality is that there is reason for concern as the implications of treating metadata as having a low privacy value is enormously troubling…

Read the entire post: http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/7028/125/

Access the first piece on C-13: https://insightaas.com/michael-geist-lawful-access-is-back-controversial-bill-returns-under-the-guise-of-cyber-bullying-legislation/


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