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Citizen Lab Survey Results

Posted by Matt on March 06, 2014         Tagged with: telecommunications, surveillance

In January, the Citizen Lab conducted a survey of Canadian telecommunications companies about their practices when it came to disclosing subscriber information to government agencies. Today, they posted the results of that survey.

We asked the companies to reveal the extent to which they voluntarily, and under compulsion, disclose information about their subscribers to state agencies, as well as for information about business practices and data retention periods. The requested information would let researchers, policy analysts, and civil liberties groups better understand the current telecommunications landscape and engage in evidence-based policy analysis of current and proposed government surveillance activities. The companies were asked to provide responses by March 3, 2014.

The results weren't spectacular. Most companies provided answers which were not responsive to the specific questions asked. Not only were they unresponsive, but they didn't even want to indicate why they were unresponsive.

For almost all questions, it seems, companies are unwilling to assert whether they cannot or will not respond; instead, they have deliberately left unclear whether they are legally barred from providing responses to specific questions or have simply decided that they would prefer not to respond to these these questions

Of all the telcos, it sounds as if Telus was the most open. They provided some indication of their policies on information disclosure, bragged about the time they pushed back on general warrants and discussed the legal framework they would like to see in place.