Feeds

Canadian spookhaus says airport Wi-Fi slurp didn't invade privacy

'Nothing to see here, or it didn't happen, or if it did it was ok'

The essential guide to IT transformation

The chief of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), which has been accused of slurping airport Wi-Fi traffic in a story aired on CBC, has denied wrongdoing to a Canadian Senate committee.

As part of the never-ending drip-feed of spook secrets served up by Edward Snowden, CBC News alleged that CSEC used airport Wi-Fi to identify individuals passing through, which it then tracked “for days”.

At the time, CSEC said it was allowed to collect metadata, but also said its surveillance didn't include Canadians. However, the allegations were serious enough to attract the attention of that country's Senate national defence committee (NDC).

According Canada's The Globe and Mail, the prime minister's national security advisor told the committee that he was “not totally persuaded” that CSEC had “tapped into airport Wi-Fi”.

Rather, Rigby said, the agency had only collected metadata, which he described as “legal and appropriate” because all that was collected was “data about data”.

CSEC chief John Forster, who also appeared before the committee, also defended this use of metadata, while at the same time confirming what experts have been saying for years: that an extraordinary amount can be learned without knowing the content of a communication.

CBC reports that Forster said CSEC had created a model showing that the agency could “track a user's network activity” when using a public connection.

Rather than a tracking exercise, Forster said CSEC slurped the Wi-Fi metadata as an R&D project. CBC quotes Forster as saying “We weren't targeting or trying to find anyone or monitoring individuals' movements in real time. The purpose of it was to build an analytical model of typical patterns of network activity around a public access mode*.”

[*The Register is almost certain that this is a mis-transcription, and the word Forster used is “node”.]

The information wasn't used in real time, Forster said, but rather was analysed later to produce the model. The aim of the model, he told the committee, is to identify the signatures of Wi-Fi hotspots.

Whether or not those reassurances settle those who believe their privacy has been invaded is another thing. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen
I scream, you scream, we all scream 'DATA BREACH'!
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
KER-CHING! CryptoWall ransomware scam rakes in $1 MEEELLION
Anatomy of the net's most destructive ransomware threat
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids
Records used to plunder game items, sold off to low lifes
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?