CBC certainly broke an interesting story this morning with the release of documentation from Edward Snowden’s collection. The story “CSEC used airport Wi-Fi to track Canadian travellers: Edward Snowden documents” indicates ‘Canada’s electronic spy agency used information from the free internet service at a major Canadian airport to track the wireless devices of thousands of ordinary airline passengers for days after they left the terminal.’
Understandably this is causing a bit of a kerfuffle. CSEC has issued a statement that states that in order to fulfil CSEC’s foreign intelligence role ‘CSE is legally authorized to collect and analyze metadata. In simple terms, metadata is technical information used to route communications, and not the contents of a communication.’
While more is sure to break on this in the coming days I’ll stick my neck out here and suggest this may not have been against the law. If this was an exercise or trial or field test of a capability still in development then it wasn’t an intelligence gathering operation and, as such, might be considered permissible.