CSEC exoneration a ' mockery of public accountability'

A federal watchdog is bringing in howls of protest from some privacy and internet experts right after absolving Canada’s electronic spy agency of using data from a Canadian airport internet service to track thousands of passengers for days after they left the airport terminal.

The oversight body that monitors the super-secretive Marketing communications Security Establishment Canada has concluded that the agency was not involved in “tracking of Canadians or persons within Canada. ”

Rather, the oversight body says the particular spy agency was simply collecting so-called metadata in an exercise “to understand global communications networks. ”

By law, CSEC are unable to target Canadians anywhere in the world, nor anybody in Canada, including visitors.

A top secret CSEC document retrieved by U. S. whistleblower Edward Snowden and recently documented by CBC News, shows the particular spy agency was able to obtain information from an airport Wi-Fi web service, identifying the smartphones and other wi-fi devices of passengers going through the particular terminal over a two-week period.

CSEC watchdog muzzled, defanged: Greg Weston

CSEC used airport Wi-Fi to track Canadian travellers: Edward Snowden documents

Read the documents (redacted) on CSEC’s aiport Wi-FI tracking task

The document shows CSEC was able to follow the devices simply by where they interacted with other Wi fi systems in hotels, coffee shops, libraries and other locations across North america over a period of days after leaving the particular Canadian airport.

The CSEC watchdog, headed on a part-time basis by a semi-retired judge, Jean-Pierre Plouffe, concluded: “No CSEC activity was directed at Canadians or people in Canada…that would be illegal. ”

Plouffe’s office states its investigation exonerating CSEC comprised almost entirely of talking to CSEC.

“We questioned CSEC employees involved in the activity…and we analyzed results of the activity, ” the oversight body said in a prepared statement posted to its website.

Cyber expert Ron Deibert says the ruling “makes the mockery of public accountability plus oversight. ”

The author of the best-selling book Black Code about web privacy says the leaked Snowden document would lead most people in conclusion that “the Government of North america is indeed engaged in mass surveillance of Canadians. ”

Ontario’s personal privacy commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, says she actually is disappointed by the ruling.

“CSEC isn’t tracking? I don’t know what that means…Does he [Plouffe] mean that collecting metadata can’t equal the tracking of Canadians? ”

Cavoukian states the reality of what the spy program was up to is being clouded within “doublespeak. ”

“I don’t care if you call it tracking or a ham sandwich. ”

CSEC director John Forster recently argued before a United states senate committee hearing that collecting metadata isn’t tracking anyone.

The agency’s independent watchdog evidently agrees.

Metadata will be information about a personal communication, but not the specific content – for example , the phone amounts of everyone a person calls, but not the specific content of those conversations.

In the case of the airport pilot task – it has since become completely operational – the metadata might have included the identifying codes to the airport visitors’ smartphones, and their particular locations over a period of days.

Deibert is director of the Resident Lab for cyber issues in the University of Toronto’s Munk College of Global Affairs. He says metadata can be far more invasive than the articles of a person’s actual phone calls plus emails.

“Let’s become clear: Our movements, social romantic relationships, habits, meetings, personal preferences, with whom we communicate and for just how long, the websites we visit – all that and more is what the government asserts it can collect and analyze, ” Deibert says.

“That will be deeply troublesome. ”

Privacy commissioner Cavoukian says she was stunned to learn the ruling on CSEC was based nearly entirely on Plouffe and his staff members talking to the spy agency’s workers.

“With the greatest of respect, I was surprised they did not dig deeper on this given the particular scope of the issue and how practiced people have become over metadata selection. ”

Plouffe’s workplace is currently conducting a study of the metadata issue with the final results expected sometime within the late summer of 2015, right before the next federal election.


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A federal watchdog is attracting howls of protest from some personal privacy and internet experts after absolving Canada’s electronic spy agency of using data from a Canadian airport internet service to track thousands of passengers for days after they left the terminal.

The oversight body that will monitors the super-secretive Communications Security Establishment Canada has concluded that the particular agency was not involved in “tracking of Canadians or persons in North america. ”

Instead, the particular oversight body says the secret agent agency was simply collecting so-called metadata in an exercise “to understand global communications networks. ”

By law, CSEC cannot focus on Canadians anywhere in the world, nor anyone within Canada, including visitors.

A top secret CSEC document gathered by U. S. whistleblower Edward Snowden and recently reported simply by CBC News, shows the secret agent agency was able to obtain data from an airport Wi-Fi internet service, determining the smartphones and other wireless gadgets of passengers going through the airport terminal over a two-week period.

CSEC watchdog muzzled, defanged: Greg Weston

CSEC used airport Wi-Fi to track Canadian vacationers: Edward Snowden documents

Read the documents (redacted) on CSEC’s aiport Wi-FI tracking project

The document indicates CSEC was able to follow the devices by where they interacted with other Wi-Fi techniques in hotels, coffee shops, your local library and other locations across Canada during days after leaving the Canadian airport.

The CSEC watchdog, headed on a part-time base by a semi-retired judge, Jean-Pierre Plouffe, concluded: “No CSEC activity had been directed at Canadians or persons within Canada…that would be illegal. ”

Plouffe’s office says its investigation exonerating CSEC consisted nearly entirely of talking to CSEC.

“We questioned CSEC workers involved in the activity…and we examined results of the activity, ” the oversight body said in a prepared statement published to its website.

Cyber expert Ron Deibert states the ruling “makes a mockery of public accountability and oversight. ”

The author of the best-selling book Black Code about internet personal privacy says the leaked Snowden document would lead most people to conclude that will “the Government of Canada is definitely engaged in mass surveillance of Canadians. ”

Ontario’s privacy office, Ann Cavoukian, says she is dissatisfied by the ruling.

“CSEC isn’t tracking? I don’t know what that will means…Does he [Plouffe] mean that collecting metadata can’t equivalent the tracking of Canadians? ”

Cavoukian says the reality of what the spy service had been up to is being clouded in “doublespeak. ”

“I don’t care if you call it tracking or perhaps a ham sandwich. ”

CSEC director John Forster lately argued before a Senate committee hearing that collecting metadata is not tracking anyone.

The agency’s independent watchdog apparently agrees.

Metadata is information regarding a personal communication, but not the actual articles – for example , the phone numbers of everyone a person calls, but not the actual articles of those conversations.

When it comes to the airport pilot project – it has since become fully functional – the metadata would have integrated the identifying codes on the airport visitors’ smartphones, and their places over a period of days.

Deibert is director of the Citizen Laboratory for cyber issues at the College of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. He says metadata could be far more invasive than the content of a person’s actual phone calls and email messages.

“Let’s be obvious: Our movements, social relationships, behaviors, meetings, personal preferences, with who we communicate and for how long, the websites we visit – all of that and more is what the government asserts it can collect and analyze, ” Deibert states.

“That is deeply troublesome. ”

Personal privacy commissioner Cavoukian says she had been stunned to learn the ruling on CSEC was based almost completely on Plouffe and his staff talking to the spy agency’s employees.

“With the greatest of respect, I was surprised they didn’t dig deeper on this given the scope of the issue and how exercised people have become over metadata collection. ”

Plouffe’s office is currently conducting a study of the metadata issue with the final results expected sometime in the late summer of 2015, just before the next federal election.

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