Canada: Emails “Blind Carbon Copied” en Masse into Federal Files

EspañolIn a series of documents released on April 29 — the trigger for a renewed debate on surveillance — interim Federal Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier revealed that in 2011 the Canada’s federal government requested subscriber data from Canadian telecommunications firms about 1.2 million times. University of Ottawa Professor Michael Geist, a specialist in digital law, calculated that a request was made every 27 seconds for that entire year.

However, it appears that the federal government has made its work a bit easier. The Canadian government has effectively BCC‘d itself on your emails, according to documents obtained by Geist.

An “unnamed telecom firm” allowed the government to “copy communication data moving on its networks,” by “sending what is essentially a mirror image of the packet data.” This packet data then goes to the agency, which conducts “deep packet inspection” — an analysis that can “distinguish between emails, file-sharing and other types of internet communication, and can be used to build statistics about an internet user.”

Geist notes, “the systems may create great efficiencies for law enforcement — click, access subscriber data, and receive a bill from the telecom company — but they suggest a system that is entirely devoid of oversight, with even the Privacy Commissioner excluded from ensuring compliance with the law.” In a post published on May 1, Geist warns about “many, many questions without any clear answers.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and NDP leader Tom Mulcair expressed similar concerns over legal compliance. Out of 18,849 data requests “in a recent 12-month period” by the Canada Border Services Agency, a scant 52 requests had court warrants.

Source: Huffington Post Canada.

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