After Canada’s Supreme Court ruled last summer that Internet Service Providers could not voluntarily disclose customer information to law enforcement officials, Canadian telecom Rogers has reported fewer customer information requests, according to its 2014 Transparency Report.
In total, requests for customer information, including names, addresses and billing records, dropped from 174,917 in 2013 to 113,655 in 2014.
In June 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada barred ISPs from disclosing the names, addresses and phone numbers of their customers at the request of law enforcement officials unless they had a judge’s warrant.
Unsurprisingly, requests for customer names and addresses linked to a listed phone number or an IP address without a warrant dropped the most in the period following the court ruling. However, Rogers also reported a slight reduction in the number of requests with a court order or warrant from 74,415 in 2013 to 71,501 in 2014.
In response to requests, Rogers refused to divulge information or was unable to return customer information in 2,278 cases.
Rogers is among Canada’s largest ISPs, with the others being Bell and Telus.
What’s Happening in Canada is Not Necessarily Indicative of Global Trends
This apparent trend towards fewer law enforcement requests in Canada, however, does not seem to be taking place in the US.
In 2013, U.S. telecoms AT&T and Verizon each received more than 300,000 requests from law enforcement, which has remained relatively unchanged in their most recent reports. Verizon received almost 150,000 demands for customer information from United States law enforcement in the first half of 2014, and almost 140,000 demands in the second half. AT&T received 115,925 US civil and criminal demands in the first half of 2014, and 147,830 in the second half.
Transparency reports on user data requests became very popular after Edward Snowden leaked documents that shed light on the extent to which government agencies have access to personal information. And they’re not limited to telcos. They have been widely issued by organizations that receive requests for personal information from law enforcement agencies – which increasingly means online service providers.
In March 2013, Microsoft began publishing details of the number of demands it receives from around the world in its Law Enforcement Requests Reports. And Google, which has been publishing transparency reports since 2010, found that demands for user information under U.S. criminal investigations increased 19 percent in the first half of 2014 to 31,698.