ARCHIVED - Order CRTC 2001-279

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Order CRTC 2001-279


Ottawa, 30 March 2001


Provision of subscribers' telecommunications service provider identification information to law enforcement agencies


Reference: 8665-C12-10/00 and TN 6479


The Commission accepts the views expressed by many parties that LSPID information does not reveal intimate details of the lifestyle or personal choices of subscribers. The Commission would therefore be prepared to approve a tariff offering this service to LEAs.


The CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee Network Security sub-working group filed a consensus report proposing that the name of a telephone subscriber's local service provider identification (LSPID) be permitted to be released to law enforcement agencies (LEAs). Previously, in the monopoly environment, if a person had local telephone service, the service provider was known as it was necessarily the monopoly provider. Moreover, the telephone number itself revealed the name of the local service provider. Currently, because subscribers have a choice of service providers and have the ability to port their telephone number from one service provider to another, LSPID information is no longer revealed by the telephone number. The Consensus Report proposed that LEAs should be permitted to obtain LSPID information from carriers without having to obtain a warrant. The Consensus Report noted, among other things, the incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) would be required to amend their tariffs, as applicable, if the Commission approves the release of LSPID to LEAs.


In addition, Bell Canada filed Tariff Notice 6479 Service Provider Identification Service, proposing a service to provide LEAs, with the name of the firm providing service to a particular telephone number. Bell Canada obtained concurrence from the Canadian LNP Consortium for use of the local number portability (LNP) database information. All local exchange carriers (LECs) are members of the Consortium.


In Public Notice CRTC 2000-97, issued on 13 July 2000, the Commission sought comment on issues relating to the Consensus Report and Bell Canada TN 6479. Among other things, the Commission invited comment on whether LSPID should continue to be considered confidential under the terms of service applicable to ILECs and the comparable confidentiality provisions applicable to competitive LECs (CLECs).


Position of parties


The Commission has carefully considered all of the submissions filed on the record of this proceeding. Most parties took the view that LEAs should be permitted to obtain LSPID information from carriers pursuant to a tariff approved by the Commission. These parties generally took the view that the release of LSPID information does not contravene section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter), which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.


Most parties argued that in the absence of the tariff, the LEAs could obtain this information by telephoning each carrier directly. They argued that the carriers would be permitted to release this information without the consent of the subscriber pursuant to section 7(3)(c.1) of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Delivery Act, S.C. 2000 c. 5 (PIPEDA). The Privacy Commissioner of Canada submitted that this provision - which permits disclosure of information only to those with "lawful authority" to obtain it - does not authorize warrantless disclosures of personal information. Rather this subsection maintains the status quo. While recognizing that the personal information in question is not highly sensitive, the Privacy Commissioner was concerned that approval of the tariff would subtly shift the status quo and lessen protection under the Charter. The Privacy Commissioner suggested that LEAs should be required to comply with certain conditions if LSPID information is to be released to them.


A few parties questioned whether the provision of LSPID is a "telecommunications service" subject to the Telecommunications Act, while others supported the Commission's jurisdiction in respect of this service.


With regard to notice, consent, scope of use and safeguards that should be in place, parties' comments addressed two issues:


i) Should parties be informed through the LECs terms of service that LSPID can be released to LEAs: and


ii) Should the individual customer be informed prior to the release of LSPID to an LEA?


Some parties did not see the necessity of informing subscribers of the availability of LSPID to LEAs through the LECs' terms of service; other parties supported including a notice that LSPID may be released to LEAs


Commission conclusions


The Commission notes that the database containing LSPID information is fundamental to a carrier's telephone system. A carrier could not properly route calls, and thus provide telephone service, without access to this information. Moreover, it is only by virtue of the fact the carrier is in the business of providing telecommunications services that it has access to LSPID. In light of the foregoing, the Commission finds that, in the absence of a court order, the provision by a Canadian carrier of LSPID information to LEAs is a "telecommunications service" for which a tariff must be filed for Commission approval.


Under Bell Canada's proposed tariff, only the name of the local telephone service provider associated with a telephone number is revealed to an LEA; the name of the subscriber, or any other information pertaining to the subscriber, would not be revealed. The Commission notes that while there may be other ways to obtain the name of a subscriber associated with a published telephone number, the LEAs would not have access to the name of a subscriber with a non-published telephone number.


The Commission considers that while the proposed service would not disclose the name of the subscriber, the LSPID information that is provided to the LEAs is regarding the subscriber, given that it reveals the subscriber's choice of service provider. The Commission therefore considers that LSPID information is personal information to the subscriber. However, the Commission accepts the views expressed by many parties that LSPID information does not reveal intimate details of the lifestyle or personal choices of subscribers. The Commission would therefore be prepared to approve a tariff offering this service to LEAs, subject to the following.


Bell Canada's proposed service would reveal LSPID information relating to telephone numbers used by subscribers of Bell Canada and of other LECs. Consequently, the provision governing the confidentiality of the customer records of all LECs must be modified to reflect this new service. The change to this provision will advise subscribers of the possibility that the LSPID information associated with their telephone number may be released to LEAs in accordance with an approved tariff. In light of the determinations herein, the Commission concludes that all LECs must revise their confidentiality of customer records provision by adding the following sentence, and any other minor modifications that are required to incorporate words to this effect into the existing provision:


The company may also release to a law enforcement agency, in accordance with the terms of a tariff approved by the CRTC, the identity of the service provider, but not the name of the customer, associated with a specific telephone number.


Bell Canada is directed to notify the Commission within 60 days, serving a copy on all LECs, as to whether it intends to issue a revised LSPID tariff in accordance with the determinations herein. Subject to the receipt by the Commission of a notification by Bell Canada that it intends to issue a revised tariff for the LSPID service, the Commission directs Bell Canada and all other LECs whose subscribers are affected by the service proposed by Bell Canada to issue, within 30 days of receipt of such notification by Bell Canada, a revised confidential customer record provision in accordance with the Commission's conclusion above. In those cases where this provision is contained in a tariff, a revised tariff must be issued.


The Commission further considers that the circumstances in which LEAs may obtain the LSPID information should be limited to ensure that the information is obtained by LEAs only to assist in obtaining a warrant for information from the service provider relating to the subscriber and only in the course of an active investigation.


Therefore, subject to the condition that Bell Canada issue a revised tariff consistent with the following, the Commission approves Bell Canada TN 6479 subject to the modifications described below, effective 30 days following receipt of a notification by Bell Canada that it intends to issue a revised LSPID tariff in accordance with the determinations herein. The tariff must specify that Bell Canada's LSPID service will be provided to an LEA subject to the following conditions:


i) The LEA requesting the information is acting pursuant to a lawful authority;


ii) The LEA is gathering intelligence for the purpose of a specific, active investigation relating to the enforcement of a law of Canada, a province or a foreign jurisdiction; and


iii) The LEA requires the information in order to obtain a warrant, which is required to obtain information relating to the subscriber.


In light of the above, the Commission does not consider it necessary or appropriate to approve the Consensus Report.


Secretary General


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Date Modified: 2001-03-30

Date modified: