Geist: C-30 and the commercial surveillance industry

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By Michael Geist for TheStar.com

Privacy International, one of the world’s leading privacy organizations, last year released the results of a multi-year investigation into the shadowy world of the commercial surveillance industry. Dubbed “Big Brother Inc.,” the investigation placed the spotlight on dozens of companies that specialize in covert surveillance technologies that are typically sold directly to governments and law enforcement agencies.

While governments in Asia and the Middle East have provided a ready market for technologies that can monitor Internet activities, Canada’s new online surveillance legislation features provisions that appear to open the door to bringing such tools here.

The Privacy International investigation revealed that surveillance companies commonly promote virtually unlimited monitoring capabilities to governments and police agencies. For example, Italian-based Innova offers “solutions for the interception of any kind of protocols and IP-based communication, such as web browsing, email and web-mails, social networks, peer–to-peer communication, chat and videochat.”

Endace Accellerated, a New Zealand-based company, promotes the “power to see all for Government” and the U.K.-based Gamma Group offer “turnkey lawful interception projects” that includes SMS interception, speech identifying tools, and data retention.

In all, the investigation demonstrated how online surveillance has become a massive global industry that makes it easy for law enforcement agencies to implement surveillance capabilities. Read more »

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Topics: Online Spying