Of course, it was all done in the name of the pandemic, but an access to information request revealed that Canada’s federal government was tracking the movements of 33 million Canadians.
It knew when Canadians were shopping. It knew when they were visiting friends. The information was so specific, it knew when people were going to a liquor store.
True North provides the details:
The Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) secretive mass surveillance program included tracking family gatherings, visits to the grocery store and other travels of millions of Canadians.
Officials had access to detailed information about people’s movements after scooping up data from 33 million mobile devices across Canada.
Documents submitted to the Commons ethics committee reveal that the data analysis company BlueDot provided PHAC with anonymized reports so that public health officials could track travel patterns of Canadians.
Concerns about data the federal government collected
The government insists it did not have details that would identify specific users. However, Ontario’s privacy commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, remains concerned that the federal government could use the data collected to ‘reidentify’ individual users and track them.
Ann Cavoukian, Executive Director of Global Privacy and Security by Design told True North:
“They are collecting all of this mobile data. 33 million mobile devices and mobile devices are usually linked to personal identifiers, and you have to take some measures to remove them and de-identify the data in a strong way so it can’t be reidentified. We have no assurances to that effect whatsoever.”
The House of Commons ethics committee stated that the federal government should notify Canadians when it is spying on them and give people the option to say no.