Canadian wireless companies are poised to once again agree to give Ottawa the ability to monitor calls and phone data of consumers.
The commitment is tied to wireless companies applying to bid on newly available spectrum.
For nearly two decades, Ottawa officials have told telecommunications companies that one of the conditions of obtaining a licence to use wireless spectrum is to provide government with the capability to monitor the devices that use the spectrum. The Sept. 17 kickoff of the auction-countdown process will underscore that commitment, made out of sight of most Canadians because it is deemed too sensitive by the government.
The documents can be obtained by firms participating in the auction, but not by Canadian consumers. However, The Globe has obtained a copy of the accord.
According to the newspaper, the accord “governs the way that mobile-phone companies help police pursue suspects by monitoring telecommunications—including eavesdropping, reading SMS texts, pinpointing users’ whereabouts, and even unscrambling some encrypted communications. Wireless carriers are told they must be ready to hand over such data should police or intelligence agencies compel the release of the information through judicially authorized warrants. Such information goes well beyond traditional wiretaps, and also includes phone logs and keystrokes.”
Major telcos Rogers, Telus, and Bell are all expected to participate in the auction, as well as smaller discount carriers such as Wind.
Image: The Globe and Mail