Privacy in the Age of the Internet: Lawful Access Provisions and Access to ISP and OSP Subscriber Information


  • Graham Mayeda Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa.



Bill C-30 (the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act) and the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act are two recent attempts by the Canadian government to create incentives for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Online Service Providers (OSPs) to disclose the subscriber information of Internet users to government agencies. In this article, the author argues that while such provisions may not violate section 8 of the Charter based on current judicial interpretation, they ought to be found unconstitutional. To date, the Supreme Court of Canada’s search and seizure jurisprudence uses a normative framework that does not distinguish between defining the right to privacy and justifying limitations to it. This approach is not consistent with that taken for other Charter rights. The recent decisions of the Supreme Court in R v. Spencer and R v. Fearon may signal a slight shift, but they do not go far enough. If courts defined privacy interests more broadly than under current law and required the government to justify restrictions on these interests under section 1, this would create a legal regime that achieves a better balance between competing privacy and security interests.