Newsmaker of the day: Edward Snowden

Newsmaker, Jan. 29: New report obtained by Snowden reveals Canada’s electronic spy agency monitors millions of daily downloads

Edward Snowden (AP Photo/The Guardian)

Edward Snowden (AP Photo/The Guardian)

Just in case you thought the U.S. government had a monopoly on creeping the Internet: a new report reveals Canada’s electronic spy agency monitors millions of daily downloads in search of potential threats hidden amid all those episodes of Glee.

A document obtained by Edward Snowden, the former U.S. intelligence contractor who exposed the breadth of the U.S. National Security Administration’s online monitoring capabilities, reveals that Canada’s Communications Security Establishment similarly eavesdrops on downloads of documents and videos from more than 100 file-sharing sites around the world. Dubbed project “Levitation,” the program tracks between 10 million and 15 million downloads per day, according to the CBC, which analyzed the leaked document with the help of U.S. journalist and author Glenn Greenwald, who c0-founded the website The Intercept.

A spokesperson for the spy agency told the public broadcaster that its mandate clearly includes the collection of “foreign signals intelligence to protect Canada and Canadians from a variety of threats to our national security, including terrorism.”

While the document—a 2012 PowerPoint presentation—suggests that analysts find 350 “interesting download events” each month, it also notes that’s less than 0.0001 per cent of the collected traffic. The document also jokes about the need to weed out episodes of Glee and other innocuous content.

Those sorts of numbers naturally raise questions both about the program’s effectiveness in combatting foreign terrorist threats, and also whether the benefits outweigh the potential for abuse—particularly at a time when the federal government is proposing more powers for those charged with counterterrorism duties.



Newsmaker of the day: Edward Snowden

  1. I’m certain Canadians will be thankful for this news item which indicates that their own government condones treating the entire population as potential spies.

    The Boston Marathon attacks, among other things, are conclusive evidence that such mad Orwellian strategies do not work.

    Citizen Hero Snowden, praised by many, including me, but reviled by some U.S. Congress members who were asleep at the switch while various abuses of the U.S. Constitution were condoned, is deserving of complete immunity from any prosecution and must be invited back, his passport restored, befitting his heroic act which, risking everything, brought us the proof that the situation was not as bad as we had imagined….it was far worse.

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