There is never a dull moment in Canada when it comes to wireless mobile services, even when the RCMP and other police forces become involved. The newest story hitting the CBC newswires is that the police forces, including the RCMP, are refusing to reimburse Rogers for fees being charged when they request information from the carrier for helping to track suspects through their mobile phones.
This just brings to the forefront a long-standing dispute over who is responsible for the fees when the police request information from a company in an investigation. The police claim that Rogers is legally obligated to follow the court-mandated orders as part of their duty to society. Rogers fired back that they do cover the costs of most judicially approved requests, but in some cases it will charge a minimum fee. This is something that Rogers announced in May, in writing to the RCMP and other police services, that starting on August 1, there would be a fee for certain services.
The fees that Rogers is imposing involve the cost of executing a warrant to track customers via their cell phone data and the cost of producing affidavits for court purposes. In their 2013 Transparency Report released in June 2013, Rogers listed that of the 174,917 requests it received that 87,856 were for confirmation of name and addresses. Next, there were 74,415 court orders or warrant requests, as well as over 2500 governmental letters that they must respond. RCMP claim there is no basis for these fees and that if Rogers refused, they could be charged under the Criminal Code for failing to comply with a court order.
So which one is correct? Is Rogers within its rights to charge a fee for services rendered or are they legally obligated to use their resources to comply freely with police requests? According to a note that the RCMP used in their denial – obtained by the Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act – a 2008 Supreme Court ruling stated that companies are expected to comply and bear the costs, unless they became unreasonable. According to the case, they were referring to, the costs were between $400,000 and $800,000 – those were considered “reasonable.”
Even though Rogers sent out notices and requested that a signed copy be sent back to them, the RCMP suggested that the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police issue a collective response that they would not be paying the fees. “It is the (association’s) view that police services throughout Canada should not be required to bear the costs associated with court-ordered activities,” the recommendation said. They seem to feel that Rogers should bear the costs of court-ordered activities that the police or courts requested in the first place. They fully acknowledged that “The demand for these services will only increase as electronic crimes committed over mobile services continues to grow.”
Although these disagreements continue in the background, the RCMP and other police services have a good working relationship with Rogers. However, it looks like we will be hearing more about this in the future as requests increase and telecom companies will have to have an entire staff just to handle those requests. Either way, the taxpayer will end up footing the bill either through increased mobile monthly plan fees or an increase in taxes.
Please hit us up on our Google+ Page and let us know if you think that the carrier or the police should have to bear the brunt of the costs in order to comply with court orders…as always, we would love to hear from you.