‘Asleep at the wheel’: Canada police’s spyware admission raises alarm

An admission from Canada’s national police force that it routinely uses powerful spyware to surveil citizens has prompted concern from experts, who warn the country is “asleep at the wheel” when it comes to regulating and reining in use of the technology.

During a parliamentary session in late June, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police submitted a document outlining how a special investigative team covertly infiltrates the mobile devices of Canadians. The tools, which have been used on at least 10 investigations between 2018 and 2020, give the police access to text messages, email, photos, videos, audio files, calendar entries and financial records. The software can also remotely turn on the camera and microphone of a suspect’s phone or laptop.

The RCMP, which has long evaded questions over whether it uses spyware to track Canadians, provided the information about its “on-device investigative tools” in response to a question from a Conservative lawmaker about how the federal government collects data on its citizens.


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