For several days eyes have been on the U.S. where reports that Washington has been able to mine metadata from wireless calls and collect information from some of the biggest Internet content providers in the country have captured headlines.

But new reports Monday indicate that the Canadian government is quietly doing some data collection as well. The Globe and Mail said it has gained documents from Ottawa through an access to information request showing the Harper government approved a directive in 2011 giving it the ability to get metadata from public communications traffic here.

This metadata is not the actual contents of a voice or email communications, but the article says law enforcement agencies can learn a lot anyway.
(Image from Shutterstock)

Also, today’s Toronto Star features a lengthy interview with Ron Deibert, director of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, who warns that a huge amount of Internet traffic is routed through the U.S. That means U.S. intelligence agencies can access a lot of information about communications here, regardless of Canadian law.

Most Canadians believe that a judicial warrant is needed for a law enforcement agency to intercept communications here. These reports, however, raise questions about whether governments have found a way around that, or whether data gain merely helps police get judicial warrants.

In an interview late last week with IT World Canada, Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian called the U.S. data collection “astounding that these measures would take place in the United States of America with the Statue of Liberty.”

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