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Rogers sheds new light on what personal data spy agencies can get

Rogers sheds new light on what personal data spy agencies can get:

Comments yield insights into a largely hidden relationship between intelligence agencies and communications corporations Federal spy agencies are, like police, “obviously going to have to get a lot more production orders than they did in the past,” one of Canada’s Big Three communications companies says.

And while Ottawa’s agents had been getting warrantless access to some corporately held records, “we have not opened up our metadata to the government as apparently has happened in the U.S.”

Rogers Communications’ vice-president of regulatory affairs, Ken Engelhart, made these and other remarks about his company’s relationships with federal intelligence-agencies, as he spoke to The Globe’s Christine Dobby about corporate transparency in an interview this week.

Such remarks, not published until now, are important because they yield some insights into a largely hidden relationship between intelligence agencies and communications corporations.

But even as Rogers is now publicizing its bona fides as a telecom company that acts more openly than most, it is privately admitting to customers that it can face federal gag orders.

“We are unable to confirm with a customer when their information has been disclosed to a government institution… where that institution has refused to allow Rogers to disclose that information,” reads one such July 10 letter obtained by The Globe and Mail from privacy researcher Christopher Parsons, of University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab.

That Rogers is, in essence, playing a game of Catch-22 (if we told you we didn’t disclose your information, then others could see if they got a different response and learn we had disclosed their information, therefore we can’t tell anyone if we disclosed their information) is absurd. As is their refusal to provide basic records to their subscribers.