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NEWS: US intelligence agencies can spy on Canadians through cloud computing services

The Ottawa Citizen reports, “American spies can snoop through Canadians’ computer data — including that of political organizations and without warrants — if the data resides within popular U.S. cloud computing services (operated by U.S. firms such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, IBM and others), says a former Microsoft executive. …Authorization for the U.S. cloud surveillance comes from a subtle and largely unnoticed 2008 amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) commonly known as ‘warrantless wiretapping’.”

The article highlights, “The biggest threat from FISA snooping appears to be Canadian business and non-governmental organizations that use the cloud. ‘There’s no question we would be targeted,’ says Garry Neil, executive-director of Council of Canadians, one of the largest advocacy groups for Canada-first policies on issues such as energy, natural resources and economic policy. ‘We’re involved in campaigns that affect U.S. interests, in campaigns to try and slow down the development of the tarsands that would be seen as American foreign policy.’ The organization stores its primary computer data internally and contracts with only Canadian companies for Internet and web services. Still, Neil says, ‘it does indicate for many who take advocacy positions that they really need to be very cautious about what they’re doing for the want of saving a few dollars,’ by outsourcing their computer services to the Cloud.”

“Cloud computing involves individuals, companies and governments outsourcing computing needs to companies like Google and Microsoft at far less cost than operating similar in-house services. Internet-based cloud services range from email, such as Google’s Gmail, to data storage, software, database architecture and servers. Demands for cloud services have exploded as companies and governments cut operating costs while service providers fight to stake out lucrative territory in the cloud.”

“A five-year extension of the FISA Amendment Act of 2008 was granted by Congress and the White House in December 2012.”

The Ottawa Citizen article is at http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/Cloud+computing+puts+Canadian+users+risk+snooping+American/7907562/story.html.