Privacy

CSE spies on global file uploads

February 14, 2015

One of Canada's intelligence agencies has been secretly monitoring file downloads across the world for years, it was revealed last month. The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) has been analyzing metadata on 10-15 million downloads from file-sharing sites each day.

The top secret initiative, called LEVITATION, targets 102 file-sharing sites, in a bid to discover people linking documents to terrorist activity. Of the downloads discovered, it finds about 350 “interesting” downloads each month from around 2,200 URLs, said the report.

CSE analysts would gather information including the downloader's IP address and the browser and operating system that they were using. They would also correlate other data with the IP address, including Facebook cookies, to gain social media IDs. It would result in an ordered list of suspects that would then be delivered to a third party.

Successes from the project included determining an Al-Qaeda group's hostage strategy, said a leaked Powerpoint presentation, in addition to finding a hostage video from a previously unknown target.

Details of the campaign came from The Intercept, an online publication designed as a platform to leak information from the Edward Snowden documents, edited by journalist Glenn Greenwald, one of his original contacts.

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