Skip to main content
  1. Tech
  2. Gadgets & Tech
  3. Tech Gear

Canadian spy agency used airport WiFi data to track travelers for a week or more

See also

If you think the NSA and GCHQ are the only spy agencies that former NSA conctractor Edward Snowden has exposed with his document leaks, you'd be wrong. CBC News reported on Friday that the CSEC, Canada's own spy agency, used airport WiFi to track Canadian travelers,

The CSEC is Communications Security Establishment Canada. It is the country's electronic spy agency.

After reviewing the document (redacted PDF), one of Canada's foremost authorities on cyber-security, Ronald Deibert told CBC News that the 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.

The CSEC was reportedly provided with data captured over a two-week period by the "major airport's" free WiFi network. The data was then correlated with data from other free WiFi hotspots,

used to track travelers "for a week or more" as their wireless devices showed up at free Wi-Fi hot spots, including coffee shops, restaurants, libraries, other airports, and more -- in both Canada and the U.S. The data allowed the CSEC to effectively track traveler's activities for "a week or more."

The document does not explain just how the CSEC obtained the two-weeks worth of data from the airport's WiFi system. However, CBC News said there are indications that a "special source" provided the information to CSEC voluntarily. That being said, the two largest Canadian airports, at Toronto and Vancouver, claim they have never given passenger WiFi use data to the CSEC.

As if the current program isn't worrisome enough for privacy advocates, the leaked document indicates the passenger tracking program was actually a trial run for a new software program that the spy agency was developing with the assistance of its U.S. counterpart, the NSA. CARE, as the program is labeled, stands for Collaborative Analytics Research Environment.

In the document, CSEC said the program offered "terrific value." It could, the document continued, "be used for any target that makes occasional forays into other cities/regions."

Advertisement

Don't Miss

  • Crew
    'The Crew' preview: Ubisoft has on its hands the 'Destiny' of racing games
    Games Preview
  • Cell phone
    A bill legalizing unlocking phones has passed Congress and is expected to be signed into law
    Video
    Tech Buzz
  • Crew
    'The Crew' exclusive: Details on in-game servers, leveling up and online play
    Games Interview
  • Comic Con
    See 10 defining moments from the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con
    Camera
    10 Photos
  • Unity Exclusive
    'Assassin's Creed Unity' exclusive: Tell the world, 'I'm coming home'
    Camera
    Games Interview
  • Typing
    Is your brokerage account safe from the attacks of cyber thieves?
    Video
    Headlines