Canadian intelligence services monitor travelers using Wi-Fi hotspots at airports and cafes

    CBC News has published a secret presentation by Canadian intelligence agencies that in 2012, the Canadian Communications Security Establishment Center ( CSEC ), in close collaboration with the NSA, tested a Wi-Fi tracking system for citizens' electronic devices access located in public places in Canada and the USA, such as airports, libraries, hotels and cafes.

    Judging by the documents received, a person arriving passing through the airport terminal fell into the Wi-Fi zone, if at that moment wireless communication was turned on on his devices, the system registered them, assigning a unique ID and began to track metadata and further movements around the city.

    Through open access points located at stops, in cafes, hotels and other public places, the movement of the device was monitored and its “Geo Profile” was compiled.

    At that time, the system worked in test mode, for testing technologies and analyzing capabilities, and all the data collected was anonymized (supposedly). Over 2 weeks, more than 300,000 unique devices were registered and, accordingly, the same number of geo-profiles of their users were compiled.

    Earlier, the head of CSEC, John Foster, said that the government does not spy on its own citizens, nor on anyone in the country. “Protecting Canadians' privacy is our main principle,” said Foster. Airport officials in Vancouver and Toronto said they had never provided information collected from Wi-Fi networks, nor CSEC, nor any other Canadian intelligence agency.


    Around the same time, a group of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that it was possible for 95% of users of smartphones and other electronic devices to generate a unique GPS fingerprint that is unique to it. Moreover, in their work, scientists used the determination of the coordinates of devices using cellular base stations, which provide even less accuracy than public WiFI access points.

    This is the result of tracking a mobile user throughout the day:

    Part A shows its route and place of making calls. Each call in the operator’s network records information about the nearest base station. Based on this data, a Voronoi diagram is generated. By zooming in, you can map a user’s movement.

    The researchers found that the vast majority of users have a unique displacement pattern consisting of spatio-temporal points by which they can be identified with a high degree of accuracy. The coincidence of only four of these points (p = 4) already gives a very high accuracy in identifying a person:

    It may seem that the “track” turns out to be too rough and clustered, but as it turned out, the patterns of movement of people are so different that even this data is enough for a reliable identification of a person.

    That is how we live

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