Jim Chu, Chief Constable of the Vancouver Police Department, thinks the privacy commissioners of three provinces of do not really understand C-30:
With the greatest of respect, the letter from the privacy commissioners of B.C., Alberta and Ontario is an excellent example of the misunderstanding and consequent misinformation being disseminated regarding Bill C-30.
First, the assertion that email and Internet protocol addresses can be used to reveal web-related activities of law abiding citizens misses important information. Once subscriber information has been obtained, it is only with judicial authorization (i.e., a warrant) based on reasonable grounds to believe a crime has occurred that police can then use the information to investigate the alleged web-based criminal activities of individuals.
Second, the claim that the current law provides for immediate access to such information in exigent circumstances is simply false. The police have the authority to wiretap phones in life-at-risk circumstances without a warrant, subject to an application for judicial authority beginning immediately. But a similar “exigent circumstances” authority does not exist requiring Internet service providers to produce subscriber information; they regularly decline to produce the information. Further, without Bill C-30, there will be no requirement for ISPs to preserve data while a warrant is being obtained, or to build into their systems the ability for the police to access this information even with a warrant.
The debate regarding Bill C-30 is important because of the public safety interests at stake, so it is important the public is provided accurate information.
His letter appeared in Vancouver Sun.
Frankly, if three intelligent people can read a bill and so misunderstand it, something is wrong with the way the bill is written or Mr. Chu is the one who doesn’t quite grasp the problems with the bill. I’ll leave it to my Canadian readers to sort out which is the case, or if there’s some other explanation.