News that governments have been using IMSI catchers to collect mobile device data is not new. Back in September 2016, we shared information on our blog about how one correctional facility in Ontario used these devices to monitor cell phone transmissions within the prison. The repercussion was that prison guards were actually hacking their own phones and having their communications monitored as well.
Now we have more information: police forces across Canada are using these devices to monitor regular Canadians. The Ontario Provincial Police, the Calgary police, and Winnipeg police have confirmed that they are using IMSI catchers, according to the CBC. The RCMP had already confirmed to using Stingray technology to assist Toronto and Vancouver police with investigations. The CBC contacted 30 different law enforcement agencies, but only Calgary answered in full.
The CBC report states that “while Ontario and Winnipeg police refused to say whether they use the technology to intercept private communications, Calgary police and the RCMP insist they only deploy their IMSI catchers to identify — and occasionally, in the RCMP’s case, track — cellular devices.”
They also described the surveillance tool as vital when “used under warrant to help pinpoint suspects, and as a first step toward applying for wiretaps in serious criminal and national security investigations.”
Many are worried about what these devices can be used for. As the B.C. Civil Liberties Association expressed, “we want the police to have the appropriate tools.” Yet at the same time, the public should care that they “don’t have the appropriate oversight and that those tools have the potential for abuse.”
As we wrote in September, IMSI catchers access information that is unprotected or only moderately encrypted. If you’re storing information directly on your phone, it can be accessed. If you’re storing information in an account that is always logged on your phone, they can likely access it too. It’s also unclear if criminal elements could have access to these types of monitoring systems.
With Evizone’s patented military-grade storage and encryption, there is absolutely no way for the government to access your data with this questionable technology. Evizone’s mobile app uses numerous security features to protect your data and always logs out when you exit the app.
We respect the work done by police forces across the country, yet we do not have a clear picture of what Stingrays are used for and it’s unclear if there are any oversights. For this and many more reasons, everyone should take precautions and protect their data today.