Lawful Access – Consultation Document

Legislative Proposals

Other mechanisms to provide subscriber and service provider information

Law enforcement and national security agencies require accurate information on the subjects of their investigations in order to determine where to target an interception.  Law enforcement agencies also require such information to obtain a search warrant.

With deregulation of the telecommunications market, the telephone network has become so complex that law enforcement and national security agencies are experiencing delays and difficulties in identifying the local service provider.  Determining the local service provider identification (LSPID) information is the first step in identifying a subscriber by means of address or telephone number.  However, the only way in which this information can be obtained is through the time-consuming and costly process of directly contacting each local carrier. 

The CRTC recently approved the conditions under which Bell Canada could release LSPID (http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2002/dt2002-21.htm) information without a court order for emergency, national security and law enforcement purposes.  The LSPID service to be provided by Bell Canada would alleviate some of the concerns expressed by law enforcement in particular about obtaining access to accurate and timely information.

A related issue is how law enforcement and national security agencies can obtain access to customer name and address information, bearing in mind that some service providers do not even collect or store such information.  The CRTC decided that it would not exert its jurisdiction over information pertaining to confidential customer name and address. It is also currently considering whether some wireline providers may conduct reverse searches on non-confidential customer name and address information. 

Some states, such as Australia, the Netherlands and Germany, have established databases or statutory means for law enforcement and national security agencies to obtain accurate subscriber and service provider information more quickly.  In these countries, telecommunications service providers are required to provide such information and are responsible for its accuracy, completeness and currency. 

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has made recommendations to improve lawful access to this information, including the establishment of a national database.  The implementation of such a database would presuppose that service providers are compelled to provide accurate and current information. Other options, including the use of existing sources of information such as provincial 911 databases or private telephone directories, may be appropriate.  Any such option would need to be used in a way that is consistent with the Privacy Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, and any other applicable laws.

Issues to be considered

  • what type of mechanism, if any, should be put in place to provide law enforcement and national security agencies with up-to-date and accurate CNA and LSPID information while respecting the privacy of Canadians?

  • should an obligation to collect such CNA information be imposed even if the service provider does not collect this information for its own purposes? In other words, should a provider be compelled by law to collect CNA information?

  • some mechanisms with respect to CNA information are already in place with respect to telephones. Should such mechanisms be created or adapted to provide similar subscriber information for Internet service providers?

  • who should pay the costs of collecting, retaining and accessing this information?

  • if a database were to be established, who should operate this database?
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