One more reason for a tax revolt… Government agencies seek telecom user data at ‘jaw-dropping’ rates

OTTAWA—Government agencies are asking telecoms and social media companies to turn over Canadians’ user data at “jaw-dropping” rates, with nearly 1.2 million requests in 2011 alone.

Which government and law enforcement agencies are requesting the data from the companies remains shrouded in secrecy. And the companies themselves are refusing to disclose further details, according to Canada’s privacy watchdog.

…Michael Geist, one of Canada’s leading Internet privacy experts, said “basic subscriber information” is actually a very broad term that allows police agencies to link Internet activity to a customer’s identity.

Geist, who also writes a weekly column for the Star, said legislation currently before Parliament will actually expand the number of organizations that can ask telecoms and social media companies to voluntarily hand over their customers’ information, and protect those companies from civil or criminal lawsuits.