Canada’s Electronic Spy Agency is Following You: New Snowden Leaks
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Documents released by US whistleblower Edward Snowden show the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) used airport Wi-Fi to track passengers from around the world.
Travelers passing through a major Canadian airport were potentially caught up in a vast electronic surveillance net, which allowed the nation’s electronic spy agency to track the wireless devices of thousands of airline passengers - even for days after they had departed the terminal, a document obtained by CBC News revealed.
The document shows the spy agency was then able to track travelers for a week or more as the unwitting passengers, together with their wireless devices, visited other Wi-Fi "hot spots" in locations across Canada, and across the border at American airports.
The CBS report said any place that offered Wi-Fi internet access, including "airports, hotels, coffee shops and restaurants, libraries, ground transportation hubs" was vulnerable to the surveillance operation.
After reviewing details of the leaked information, one of Canada's leading authorities on internet security says the secret operation was almost certainly illegal.
"I can't see any circumstance in which this would not be unlawful, under current Canadian law, under our Charter, under CSEC's mandates," Professor Ronald Deibert, an internet security expert at the University of Toronto, told CBC News.
It remains unclear from the leaked data how CSEC was able to infiltrate so many wireless devices to see who was using them, both on Canadian territory and beyond.
Deibert said the intelligence agency must have gained direct access “to at least some of the country's main telephone and internet pipelines,” thereby gaining access to an enormous amount of emails and phone calls placed by Canadians.
Meanwhile, for those who are comforted by the thought that the spy agency was only collecting the metadata on Canadian wireless devices, which excludes the personal content of communications, Deibert had some sobering news.
Metadata is "way more powerful that the content of communications. You can tell a lot more about people, their habits, their relationships, their friendships, even their political preferences, based on that type of metadata," he told CBC News.
The CSEC is specifically tasked with gathering foreign intelligence by intercepting overseas phone and internet traffic, and is forbidden by law from collecting information on Canadians - or foreigners in Canada - without a court warrant.