A newly released Snowden leak jointly published by the CBC and The Intercept documents Canada's Communications Security Establishment's LEVITATION program, which spies on 15 million downloads from P2P, file lockers, and popular file distribution sites.
The Intercept features analysis by Ron Diebert from Citizenlab, the University of Toronto's excellent cybersecurity lab. The spy agency taps into fiber optic links to track the downloads.
According to the documents, the LEVITATION program can monitor downloads in several countries across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and North America. It is led by the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, Canada’s equivalent of the NSA. (The Canadian agency was formerly known as “CSEC” until a recent name change.)
The latest disclosure sheds light on Canada’s broad existing surveillance capabilities at a time when the country’s government is pushing for a further expansion of security powers following attacks in Ottawa and Quebec last year.
Ron Deibert, director of University of Toronto-based Internet security think tank Citizen Lab, said LEVITATION illustrates the “giant X-ray machine over all our digital lives.”
“Every single thing that you do – in this case uploading/downloading files to these sites – that act is being archived, collected and analyzed,” Deibert said, after reviewing documents about the online spying operation for CBC News.
Canada Casts Global Surveillance Dragnet Over File Downloads [Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald/The Intercept]
CSE tracks millions of downloads daily: Snowden documents [Amber Hildebrandt, Michael Pereira and Dave Seglins/CBC]