Canadian spies scooped up airport Wi-Fi in NSA trial: Reports

Canadian spies scooped up airport Wi-Fi in NSA trial: Reports

Summary: Documents from Edward Snowden reveal that Canada's foreign signals intelligence agency picked up metadata on airport travellers from free Wi-Fi available at a major Canadian airport.


The Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), Canada's national cryptologic and foreign signals intelligence agency, tracked the thousands of mobile devices of airline passengers by using data garnered from free airport Wi-Fi, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is reporting.

Documents provided by former US government contractor Edward Snowden, in the CBC's possession, allege that the CSEC was provided with two weeks' worth of data captured from free airport Wi-Fi in a major Canadian airport, which was used to help track passengers as they used other public Wi-Fi networks found in libraries and business across Canadian cities, as well as US airports.

The latest leaked document is said to be dated May 2012.

The CSEC operation is said to be a trial run of new software developed in concert with the US National Security Agency, with sources telling CBC that the service is fully operational.

A previous release of documents given to journalists by Edward Snowden showed that CSEC and the US National Security Agency (NSA) worked in partnership to develop cyberintelligence capabilities. The document showed that the NSA and CSEC had conducted employee exchange programs, and CSEC allowed the NSA to access areas that the American spy agency could not reach by itself.

"NSA has a close, cooperative relationship with CSEC that both sides would like to see expanded and strengthened," the document said.

This week, US Admiral Michael Rogers was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the new chief of the NSA and the US military's cyberwarfare command, as well as appointing its first privacy officer, Rebecca Richards, who will take up the role next month.

Topics: Security, Government, Privacy


Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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  • The NSA might have got me

    Which airport was it? Vancouver? Toronto? Montréal?

    I passed through many of these airports. The NSA probably Hoovered my laptop and smartphone while I was logged onto the free Wi-Fi. Well, I guess the saying must be true, that nothing is for free.

    So where else are these bas****s hacking into free Wi-Fi? That big hamburger restaurant chain? The coffee shop? Is the NSA there too?
    • NSA probably doesn't care about you

      If you were given the name, address, age, salary & industry of every person who was next to you in the traffic & transport on your journey to work. What would you do with it?
      Probably nothing. (unless you are a crook or corrupt)
      Maybe you might aggregate it & compare yourself to the average.

      When you deal with vast amount of data you tend to look for the trends & then attempt to spot the outliers. Or you filter looking for people who have drawn attention to themselves. Most often by criminal association.

      For most people NSA don't care. Even if you were looking at porn at the airport. They don't have the funding & resources to bother dealing with minor indiscretions.

      The only time you need to be concerned is when the govt becomes corrupt. aka Hitler vs Jews.
      So vote, take an interest & you should be OK.
  • Were the data provided by the airport, or the WiFi provider; or...

    ...did the spooks boot up a laptop in the airport and use it to sniff the packets?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    I still think the rule regarding searches should be that if it's illegal for private citizens to do it, it would be illegal for the authorities to do it without a warrant issued by a court on the basis of probable cause. The single exception should be if a suspect is arrested due to reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing, his person should be searched as a matter of course, and if he was driving, his vehicle should be searched as well (I think those are reasonable searches).
    John L. Ries