Previous Edward Snowden leaks already suggested that the NSA was busy infiltrating all major telecom networks in the world, and Canada was not an exception. In fact, the US spy agency specifically targeted Rogers and even collected data from Royal Bank of Canada customers, documents obtained by the Globe and Mail reveal.
The newspaper obtained a presentation titled “Private Networks: Analysis, Contextualization, and Setting the Vision” (leaked by Edward Snowden), which contains the names of Canada’s biggest carrier and biggest bank. As you may have already guessed, the documents are silent on the type of data the NSA collected from these firms.
Of course, the Canadian companies named in the documents expressed their belief that neither their computer systems nor their customer records were compromised and insisted that their networks are secure. However, they did find the eavesdropping activity “troubling.”
“If such surveillance is taking place, we would find that very troubling,” Rogers spokeswoman Patricia Trott said.
“We have not provided the NSA access to our network,” RBC spokesman Don Blair said.
The NSA’s position is that it protects the US from “terrorist plots” and “foreign aggression.” The spy agency never collects intelligence “to provide a competitive advantage to US companies,” spokeswoman Vanee Vines added.
It is worth mentioning here that Canada and the US have an agreement to refrain from spying on the communications of each other’s citizens and entities.
However, with the spread of virtual private networks (VPNs) for corporations and other large organizations, the spy agency “fears” that it is missing some secured communications. That’s why private networks have become a primary target of the NSA, and the agency identifies them with a tool called “signals intelligence development” (SigDev).
Another technique used to monitor communications along the Internet’s infrastructure involves sorting captured telecommunications traffic into realms, which are “a label assigned by the intelligence community.” We find Rogers’ and Royal Bank of Canada’s names on the slides detailing this technique.