The RCMP Spent $1.6 Million to Run an Unconstitutional Spying Program

Justin Ling
Vice: January 20, 2015

Canada’s federal police continued to snoop on Canadians’ cellphones and computers for at least a month after the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional, new documents prove.

Financial records obtained by VICE through the Access to Information Act show the extent to which the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) used federal legislation to obtain information on Canadians from all major phone companies without warrants. Instead, police paid small fees for each of these requests.

The Supreme Court ruled that practise illegal in its June 13, 2014, decision on R. v. Spencer, writing that police need judicial authorization before making those sorts of requests.

However, the records show Telus and Bell both continued to fork over Canadians’ information even after that decision was handed down.

The Newfoundland and Labrador detachment of the RCMP made 51 requests for a “phone search” to Telus between July 1 and August 1, 2014. They paid $76 for the searches. Over the course of July, the British Columbia detachment also made 129 phone search requests to Telus, and another 27 to Bell—two phone searches and 25 Service Profile Identifier (SPID) requests—running the west coast RCMP division $258.

SPID information is used to help police identify which phone lines they are able to put taps or traces on.

Many invoices cover the entire month of June, so it is unclear if the requests stopped exactly on June 13, or whether they continued later into the month.

VICE’s analysis of the records show that the RCMP paid over $1.6 million to Canada’s cellphone companies since 2010 in order to skirt the normal process of having these requests approved by a judge.

The documents only deal with the RCMP […] The documents do not include data from provincial police forces, who likely made the bulk of these Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) requests. Nor do they include the spy agencies Canadian Security Intelligence Service or Communications Security Establishment Canada, or the Canada Revenue Agency, which have also been known to use the process.

(read the full article at Vice)

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