back to article Snowden: Canadian spooks used free airport WiFi to track travellers

Another day, another item of news about unwarranted state surveillance from the desk of one E. Snowden, late of Moscow. This time the allegation is that Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) slurped information about the owners of wireless devices from the free WiFi service in one of the nation's airports. With …

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Welcome to Kanukistan

Title says it all.

Sad, very sad

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Anonymous Coward

Perspective

Perspective please...

This can happen if you are using your device in a coffee shop

Has anyone checked to see if McDonalds are monitoring for the NSA?

That could be happening on a worldwide basis.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Perspective

it is...

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This breaks our laws.

Feet will be held to the fire. I cannot wait for this to be brought in front of a judge. Lawsuit funding has already begun.

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Re: Perspective

Maybe that's how they're doing the sorting. If your device has never visited a Tim Horton's, you're not Canadian and therefore a viable target.

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Re: This breaks our laws.

Senate investigation and public discussion seminars are about to begin.

http://www.straight.com/news/578421/csec-and-canadas-top-spies-scheduled-answer-questions-senate-defence-committee

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Black Helicopters

CSEC's patent response to every question about such things is that they are prohibited by Canadian law from spying on Canadians. CSEC has been challenged several times about alleged actions and always offers the same response. We have no information about things like:

- What constitutes "spying"?

- What happens if CSEC breaks the law?

- How would we even know of they have broken the law?

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And the challenges have already been filed. There are more yet to come. Given the history of the Supreme Court in backing the people (not the government) in these sorts of things, I expect CSEC will not be happy about the verdict

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Sir

If the Canadian people and their justice system manage to reign in their government when it oversteps the mark then I reckon Canada will be a prime emigration destination.

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Re: Sir

Two days later:

"In a joint announcement, the US and Canada have agreed to tighter integration and information sharing and this agreement has been codified in signing the Treaty of Western Harmony Against Terror. This treaty will see nearly complete and unified cooperation between the two state security agencies, the NSA and CSEC, in order to better protect the citizens of these two great nations."

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Rainy words

Do the Canadian people reign, or do they rein in their government.

The reign it reineth in the just / And unjust folk together / But reins more tightly in the just / The rest escape the tether.

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Re: Sir

Our courts have a history of reigning in the government when they step too far out of line. I expect no different here...though it will take years to wind it's way through to the Supreme Court.

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Re: Sir

> then I reckon Canada will be a prime emigration destination.

Well, it already is.

That's why we are having such a big problem in the lower mainland of BC with population growth.

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Re: Sir

The problem with BC's lower mainland is that it is expensive to live in and is ripe for a major tsunami in the next few decades.

http://embc.gov.bc.ca/em/hazard_preparedness/tsunami_preparedness.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/21/bc-fault-line-tsunami-earthquake-northern-gateway-pipeline-kitimat_n_1902422.html

It is also very wet. Have only seen one sunny day there in all the times I have been there.

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Really?

Oh dear... Treaty of Western Harmony Against Terror

TWHAT

Is there a non-Vulture reference for this name?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sir

Well the head of the Canadian intelligence agency is a consultant for the company trying to build an oil pipeline - but this is completely unrelated to the intelligence agency spying on protesters, which was necessary because pipeline protesters are "enemies of Canada" according to another government minister.

And the Canadian prime minister is a christian fundamentalist that makes Bush look sane - so I wouldn't bet on it.

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Re: Sir

None of which has anything to do with the courts, their officers, or the RCMP. And if you think for a second the RCMP would hesitate to lock away any of those bastards, you're an idiot. The Tories threw the RCMP under the bus in the name of public opinion by launching investigations into RCMP corruption and misbehaviour. The RCMP would love nothing more than the return the favour.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Rainy words

That is damn clever...although it may have been derived from Charles Bowen's rhyme:

"The rain it raineth on the just/

And also on the unjust fella/

But chiefly on the just, because/

The unjust hath the just's umbrella"

But this is way better. I thought it had been lifted from Ambrose BIerce...

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Business Standards

So, US is right in saying that their spying is as per the standards that every country follows.

But, who established this standard?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Business Standards

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/01/30/cameron_public_is_cool_with_domestic_spying/

God never wanted us freethinking :)

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Meh

It still amazes me that people didn't realise that their government agencies were spying on them. It was obvious from the first days of the net ( 'traceroute' for example).

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Agree

The net was created by the military in the first place ..... enough said.

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What's traceroute got to do with anything?

Andy, can you enlighten those of us who thought traceroute was just a diagnostic tool and not a surveillance tool created by the government? I'm intrigued.

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Par for the course.

It's long been known that the Chinese government track(ed?) people through airport wifi and also used it to infect travelers with spyware, and I would be surprised if not many other governments, including the UK, Russia, France and Iran, had done this as well -- it's an obvious and risk-free way to access businessmen's & official's computers.

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Really ? Governments infecting people with spyware willy-nilly ?

Funny, I don't remember reading anything about that in the news.

Any sources to back that statement ?

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> I don't remember reading anything about that in the news

Here's an article in the New York Times.

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Nice article, thanks for the linkz

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Re: Par for the course.

Yes - but we used to think that the Chinese communist government along with the East German Stasi and the KGB were bad guys.

We didn't realize they were just rather less well organised versions of our own beacon of freedom and democracy.

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Mushroom

Awkward

Imagine the kerfuffle if you changed you MAC to a random string that happened to match the string of a device owned by a "known terrorist".

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Re: Awkward

Not really. You would be apprehended by persons unknown and flown to Guantanamo Bay, having first been tortured to within an inch of your life. You would be an unperson.

------------------------------------------------------------------

This message has been scanned by the «spying agency of your government» and has been determined to be 43% Terror-Free™.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Awkward

Or if you changed MANY MACs on MANY devices......

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Anonymous Coward

is it me?

or basically anything you can think of using the internet or has the ability to use the internet and they want to is under surveillance by a government?

I'm curious as to where this is going, on one hand the governments in question are saying this is for your own good, don't worry, nothing to see, move along and most people don't seem to care. Does the media has that much a stranglehold on general opinion that they can persuade people to give up their basic freedoms? Though thinking about this if you watch some of the absolute shite on the tv then I can understand why people think in this way, viva la revolution, idiocrosy hear we come.

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Trevor, I applaud the effort, but what makes you think Harper and CSEC will obey the spirit of a Supreme Court ruling. They have already shown they won't on other issues. As has the BC gov't yet again over another issue (teachers' ability to bargain class size.) They blithely ignore the rulings or legislate around them.

I'm afraid the Kanuckistan label is becoming truer than I would like.

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Because if Harper doesn't obey the spirit of a ruling he'll find himself in front of the Supreme Court judge one more time, and they do not take kindly in this country to repeat offenders. If he tries to outright break the law, the mounties will throw his ass in jail.

The wheels of justice turn slowly, but - at least in this country - they do still turn. And that sonofabitch absolutely runs the risk of jail. Not only for this debacle, but for several others as well. Unlike the USA, our governments are not immune to the powers of the court. Not yet. With luck, not ever.

Though our courts do take rather a long time, they eventually reach the right decision. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to plan a stagette for a friend of mine and her soon-to-be-wife. An event made possible by the supreme court pissing on the government's agenda.

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Anonymous Coward

now, if I was an experienced terrorist, or even a Very Experienced One, passing through one of the Canadian airports on my way you-know-where-to, I'd surely have ALL possible incriminating data stored on my laptop (and several usb flash drives stuffed down my pockets with backup), likewise my ipad, iphones (all with wifi enabled, etc), and to make sure I'd be invisible in the crowd, I'd wear a burka (yes, I know) and carry a large banner: Allah akhbar, I come in peace!

Otherwise the spooks would get me and all my mates, right?

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AC 9:23 - Your best chance is to wear the traditional dress and carry a large banner reading "Allah akhbar". If they stopped and searched you, that would be racial profiling and we all know how bad that is.

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@MachDiamond

Explain to please me how someone in traditional Muslim dress with a banner/sign/scarf/whatever saying "God is great" in their native tongue is bad.

Please also explain how it is any different from someone in jeans, cowboy boots, a cowboy hat and a t-shirt that says "praise Jesus"?

Both at first glance look like flagrant adherents of dangerous religious sects that have been responsible for untold suffering and misery throughout human history. Both would seem to match the stereotype of dress assigned to bigoted individuals who have no moral qualms about invading other nations to kill civilians on flimsy pretenses that amount to "convert or die." Both are people I'd avoid and consider to be equally radical, dangerous and a threat to the ethical and moral future of a civilized nation.

I say if we're going to profile against one type, we should profile against both.

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Re: "[..] how someone in traditional Muslim dress [..] is bad"

You have to admit that, in these times, it does seem rather a surveillance magnet. I'd say cops will have a tendency of keeping their eyes on both types, actually, because you just know that some nutcase somewhere will assault them in some way and everything will go downhill from there.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "[..] how someone in traditional Muslim dress [..] is bad"

ref. "surveillance magnet" - given that at least one known (terror) suspect has slipped out of a mosque in London dressed up in a burkha, and hasn't been found yet, it's hardly surprising it acts as surveillance magnet. You can't say police don't learn from their (...) mistakes :)

Sigh, these days I don't even dare putting on my old shawlar kameeze to take a stroll in my back garden, for fear of a drone attack :)

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FAIL

@Trevor_Pott, Re: @MachDiamond

You took that bait, hook, line and sinker.

You fail to see, that in parts of the US, a God Fearing Christian Nation, it is highly unpopular to be anything other than a Born Again Christian. And the commentard you responded to is one such person.

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Re: @Trevor_Pott, @MachDiamond

The USA is a secular nation with no official religion. 76% of the US is christian with only 51% being protestant. Generally it is only a small subsection of protestants that are completely fucking whacko.

If I gaze at these statistics with a cynical eye I don't think that the % of Americans that are batshit-bananas Revelationists is not that much higher than in most other countries. 20-30% of most countries seems to be peopled with such individuals, the only thing that changes is the document or charismatic authority they worship. The politically correct term for these folks is usually "the conservative base".

This isn't about being a born-again christian. I know lots of born again Christians who haven't taken the express train to crazy town. This is about Revelationists and their dogmatic hatred of their Islamic counterparts.

For all that I take issue with religion in general, the believers willing to say "convert or die" are actually a minority of the population. And if we're going to profile nutjobs from one culture we should profile from them all.

...especially in secular nations like Canada and the USA.

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In a scenario such as this it really boils down to common sense, lets be frank, its pragmatic to assume that a state (Transport Canada) owned airport is analogous to a school in which you are the students being watched by an administrator, privacy may have the approbation of the public but at what cost?

David Cameron made a speech recently in which he declared that "we have intelligence and security because it is a dangerous world and there are bad people", whilst this is a typically political justification it does ring true in some sense, if the Canadian "spooks" were to prevent even one incident as a result of 10 years spying on free open networks then i would consider it successful.

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if the Canadian "spooks" were to prevent even one incident a year as a result of 10 years spying on free open networks then i would still consider it an unacceptable violation of the liberty of Canadian citizens.

Liberty is never an acceptable price to pay for security. Let alone the illusion of security.

Also: while we're talking, are you interesting in purchasing a rock that keeps away tigers?

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FAIL

Even if the numbers were inverted, and it was 10 events per year, of spying on anybody and everybody, than this is still unacceptable.

Of course, being that it's been over 12 years since this started, and they don't have even 1 incident prevented....-->

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Anonymous Coward

"David Cameron made a speech recently in which he declared that "we have intelligence and security because it is a dangerous world and there are bad people", whilst this is a typically political justification it does ring true in some sense, if the Canadian "spooks" were to prevent even one incident as a result of 10 years spying on free open networks then i would consider it successful."

They seem to think terrorists are dumb.

Something is clearly out of order when America's director of intelligence and their head of the NSA had to tell lies to committee hearings, congress and the American people about the seriousness of terrorism.

Keith Alexander tried to claim more than 10 terror plots had been stopped by bulk phone tapping, this was conceded to have been maybe 1 by the FBI.

James Clapper is the real traitor and Obama sticks by him.

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I have a left Ear yet understand the need for my Right

Mr Pott, as much as i congratulate you on referencing a Animated Series in thoughtful discussion (despite it limited application in this context, i believe Britain has had remarkable successes in preventing terrorism through electronic and physical surveillance) and respect your opinion, which you are of course entitled to, i would request you take a more pragmatic view, i may still have my left ear however i am more than capable of understanding that the world is not presented in black and white. You mention how "Liberty is never an acceptable price to pay for Security" and whilst i agree with you in principle i do have a theory to present to you: Suppose the year is 1765 and you live under the rule of an oligarchic state, no doubt you know i am referring to the American Revolution in which through conflict and the implementation of security a nation was formed which is arguably more libertarian than the very state which used to rule it.

Or perhaps you will be more familiar with the events of 1660 in which a Dictator (or "Lord Protector" as he preferred) who had militarized the British state was forgotten as his lineage was cast out of power and a Monarch was crowned in the hope he would restore liberty after decades of military rule.

The point i am making Trevor is that whilst you would prefer Liberty without security the two "cannot exist without one another" as i believe Aristotle said. Now, as is rational should more details arise regarding this my opinions may change, as far as i am aware it has not been announced who was tracked, was it mass surveillance or individuals of interest?

I would also add taht seeing as the headline uses the words "travelers" in this case i would interpret it as saying Canadian Citizens were not the primary target of such a scheme.

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Re: I have a left Ear yet understand the need for my Right

" i believe Britain has had remarkable successes in preventing terrorism through electronic and physical surveillance"

Physical, fine. Electronic? Evidence please.

As for your reference to the American Revolution, it probably couldn't happen under this kind of surveillance, which is kind of the point I think.

Imagine that you wanted a certain amount of freedom from the state so that in the possible event that the state turns out to be less than wholesome in nature towards its people, how on earth are they (the people) going to organise another revolution in order to re-dress the balance.

If the price of that kind of freedom is that we reduce our capacity to prevent atrocities then we might want to consider paying it.

The next comment will depend a lot on your point of view, but if the US Gov was actually behind the 9/11 attack, then surely it would mark a time for a real change of administration. How then could that be effected under this system?

Even if they weren't behind it, what about in the future? The point here isn't about preventing terrorists from blowing a few of us up in a spectacularly horrible fashion, the point here is about not letting the proles get together to form a lynch mob to sort out the corruption that seems to converge on the positions of power in this world.

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Re: I have a left Ear yet understand the need for my Right

I do take a pragmatic view. Security is an illusion. You are never safe If I want to kill your ass, I will. Any sufficiently motivated individual with enough time to plan can accomplish it. Fuck, man, I can personally build something like a dozen weapons of mass destruction using items I can purchase without being ticking up the radar from various hardware and chemical stores and/or have lying around the house. There's nothing special about me or my knowledge, and I - despite this knowledge - haven't the desire to go a-murdering.

Despite literally tens of millions of people around the world having this kind of knowledge, you are not dead, your civilization is not in ruins. How do you reconcile this with the need for the panopticon?

There will always be some nutjobs - read: chaotic evil - who just want to watch the world burn. There will always be people willing to sacrifice their own lives or freedom to accomplish their goals. Stopping them is usually impossible, or requires the sacrifice of so much liberty that the civilization becomes a police state.

The deaths of the few are an acceptable price to pay for the liberty of the many. Even if those deaths include me or my loved ones. It is a sacrifice each and every one of us would willingly make. It is the price of freedom.

I do not advocate anarchy. We have laws and many of those laws need to be enforced. (Way - way - more should be repealed for a huge number of reasons.)

Simultaneously, I cannot countenance the centralization of such overwhelming power and the lack of any meaningful controls to it's use. The ability of the people who get to decide what is legal and what is not to track all people at all times and then send men with guns out to force the populace to comply must never be allowed in a civilized society. EVER.

We're not talking here about targeted surveillance. We're talking about mass surveillance of such scope as to know every sorted detail about every single individual's actions, their beliefs, their affiliations, their network of friends, family, contacts...

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

Lest we forget. Je me souviens. If the cost of the liberty of my nation is my life, I offer it willingly.

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Pint

Re: I have a left Ear yet understand the need for my Right

Trevor, one day when I next visit Canada, you are on my list of people I want to share a few hours of discussion with.

Of course, last time I was in Canada they deported my ass back to Chicago (point of departure to Canada) for some rather spurious and as it turned out completely bogus reasons. So, I am not sure whether to "chance" it again. But if I do, we should drink.

pjl

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Pint

Re: I have a left Ear yet understand the need for my Right

Any time, sir. I'm always open to beverages and socialization with people of insight and cognitive capability. Even the ones with whom I disagree. Unhindered discourse is one of the liberties that we defend in "free societies", if celebrating that happens to involve a proper lager or three, who I am to say no?

Cheers.

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