Canada’s electronic spy agency snooped on travelers who used free airport Wi-Fi — and tracked them long after they left, according to newly released files provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
And while our northern neighbors squabble over the legality of Communications Security Establishment Canada’s data-collection program, it could have bigger ramifications in the U.S. The Snowden document shows the tracking was launched with the help of the National Security Agency, part of a trial run for a new software program. CBC reports the technology has become fully operational since the 2012 test.
Experts say the spying is illegal under Canadian law, which prohibits spy agencies from targeting Canadian citizens — or anyone in Canada — without a warrant. CSEC denied it collected content from people’s phones, but defended its tracing of metadata — which can be used to track location and see all incoming and outgoing calls.
After the agency picked up Wi-Fi devices at the as-yet-unidentified Canadian airport, it was able to track them for more than a week as they popped up at other Wi-Fi locations in Canada and at U.S. airports. Canadian cybersecurity expert Ronald Deibert told CBC the agency would have had no trouble identifying individuals based on the metadata it obtained.
The Snowden document indicated the Wi-Fi data was obtained through a “special source” — both the Toronto and Vancouver airports denied providing that information. Airport Wi-Fi provider Boingo also said it was not involved.
Not only was the NSA involved in the Canadian trial run — CSEC called the technology “game-changing” — but experts say the Canadians also planned to share the technology and the intelligence it produced with the U.S., Britain, New Zealand, and Australia. It’s unclear if the program has been deployed elsewhere.
Thanks to the TSA, Americans are used to privacy violations when they head to the airport. But it’s no sure bet the intrusions have ended once you get through the body scanner.
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The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the November 14 testimony of Glenn Simpson, the man at Fusion GPS who oversaw the creation of the now infamous Trump-Russia dossier. Simpson's testimony includes a number of startling claims, including that Russia infiltrated conservative political groups prior to the election, and that Trump had "long time associations" with the Italian Mafia," and that he "gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures." Simpson also testified that Trump called off a post-election meeting with Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a longtime member of the NRA, currently under investigation by the FBI for money laundering. Simpson said that the discoveries were so alarming that he felt compelled to go to the authorities. The full text of the transcript can be read here.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has the votes to pass a short-term spending bill tonight, but "Senate Democrats said they're confident they have the votes to block the stop-gap spending bill that the House is taking up, according to two Democratic senators and a senior party aide. And top Senate Republicans are openly worried about the situation as they struggle to keep their own members in the fold."
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.
"Hundreds of new and supplemental FARA filings by U.S. lobbyists and public relations firms" have been submitted "since Special Counsel Mueller charged two Trump aides with failing to disclose their lobbying work on behalf of foreign countries. The number of first-time filings ... rose 50 percent to 102 between 2016 and 2017, an NBC News analysis found. The number of supplemental filings, which include details about campaign donations, meetings and phone calls more than doubled from 618 to 1,244 last year as lobbyists scrambled to avoid the same fate as some of Trump's associates and their business partners."