Rogers releases third annual transparency report
Encouraging to see Rogers shed a light on the company’s disclosure of subscriber information to law enforcement and challenge ‘tower dumps’ in court. We hope to see other big telecoms take on similar transparency initiatives.
This morning Rogers released its third annual Transparency Report. The publication shows readers how many times the company has handed its customers’ subscriber information over to law enforcement agencies.
Rogers now requires a court order for all customer information requested, and does not voluntarily provide information to law enforcement agencies. With last year’s court decision against tower dumps, where one request could provide access to tens of thousands of people’s information, the report reveals that there has been a significant decrease in the amount of information Rogers is turning over to authorities. This is clearly a positive step for the privacy of innocent Rogers customers who just happened to connect to the wrong tower at the wrong time.
However, it’s interesting to note that in (almost all) cases that a court order is provided, Rogers provides law enforcement agencies with the requested information. While Rogers itself notes that it will fight overly broad requests, this certainly undermines RCMP head Bob Paulson’s claims of doom and gloom after the Supreme Court put a stop to warrantless information requests. Turns out police are still obtaining customer’s information on a large scale, they just now need a court order to do so.
Transparency is a critical first step to ensure the privacy rights of all Canadians are respected. It’s encouraging to see Rogers provide more information than they have in previous years, particularly by setting out how many times they disclosed, or refused to disclose, their customers’ private information to the government. It’s also heartening to see the steep drop in customers affected by ‘tower dump’ requests after Rogers and Telus successfully challenged this indiscriminate data collection tactic in court. We hope telecom providers take a similarly strong stance against the government’s use of Stingray surveillance devices to obtain their customers’ data.
This type of reporting is essential if we are to shed light on the government’s attempts to obtain our private information. Rogers' report sets a positive example for other telecom giants, such as Bell, who do not even publish a transparency report and leave their customers in the dark. But there is still room for improvement – as independent research shows – and we hope that all providers continue to move toward increased transparency.