Sick of the NSA spying on you? Worried that the police in the US has power to spy on too many people without warrants? Ready to move to Canada? You might want to stay put, because local Canadian police seems to be following the same practices.
Yesterday, the Vancouver police department admitted to using “stingray” devices in at least one of their investigations. The controversial spying devices are unfortunately a common tool used by numerous US enforcement agencies, but knowledge of their use in Canada was, so far, very limited.
“Stingrays” are controversial, and possibly illegal, because the technology mimics cell phone towers and forces phones in range to connect to it. It can then snoop on users gathering everything from location, to metadata, to the content of phone calls and text messages. They’re also indiscriminate instruments that can’t be focused on persons of interest – instead, “stingrays” are like dragnets and catch all communications, including those from innocent bystanders.
Unfortunately, it looks like the practice is more widespread than believed, even in “the true north strong and free”. Following Vancouver PD’s explanations, now the Edmonton police department has admitted to using its own “stingray” in investigations. What’s worse is that unlike Vancouver, which borrowed their device from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Edmonton owns the equipment that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Micheal Vonn, policy director of BC Civil Liberties Association explained:
We have to assume, having made this investment, that they've used it more than once.
Unfortunately, it looks like even Canada - whose status as a liberal, inclusive and safe country has only grown in recent years - is no stranger to infringing upon its citizens’ rights. And that’s disappointing, eh?