Canada’s Internet data “intimately linked” to U.S. networks: why you should be concerned

Canada’s Internet infrastructure is “intimately linked” to U.S. data networks — and when Canadians visit their favourite websites, the data traffic more often than not flows south of the border, researchers say.

Researchers from the University of Toronto made this announcement Wednesday, by way of touting the fact the IXmaps tool — a visual, interactive database of Internet traffic routes — is now live. With a crowdsourced database of more than 40,000 Internet routes, users of the website can see a visual outlay of how web data travels across different regions, ISPs and sites. It’s an ongoing project where users are invited to continually update data flows for a holistic view of how information moves across the country via frequently used websites.

Funded by the .CA Community Investment Program, the IXmaps database will help Canadians better understand how their Internet traffic moves, and how certain routes transport web information through the United States and into the jurisdiction of the U.S. National Security Agency before returning to Canada.

It potentially sets up a scenario where Canadians are inadvertently exposing private or sensitive information — financial and health data, student records, and even political affiliation or religious beliefs — every time they log on to U.S.-based sites such as Google, Facebook, YouTube or Amazon, according to researchers. This is in light of the fact many of Canada’s major Internet service providers use networks that favour north – south connections, pushing Canadian data flows toward key American routing hubs in New York, Chicago, Seattle or California.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with data moving unencumbered across an interconnected global Internet infrastructure, Canadians need to have a stronger awareness of the implications of their web data being stored on U.S. servers, said Andrew Clement, a professor in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information.

“ISPs need to be transparent, privacy protective and accountable custodians of user information in this regard. Internet users should be fully informed consumers and citizens when making choices about their sensitive personal data,” Clement said in a statement.

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Ryan Patrick
Ryan Patrick
Seasoned technology reporter, editor and senior content producer.

Featured Articles

Cybersecurity in 2024: Priorities and challenges for Canadian organizations 

By Derek Manky As predictions for 2024 point to the continued expansion...

Survey shows generative AI is a top priority for Canadian corporate leaders.

Leaders are devoting significant budget to generative AI for 2024 Canadian corporate...

Related Tech News

Tech Jobs

Our experienced team of journalists and bloggers bring you engaging in-depth interviews, videos and content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives.

Tech Companies Hiring Right Now