Internet Monitoring Leads to Terror Arrests

This weekend’s arrest of 17 people in Toronto on terrorism-related arrests have generated significant worldwide attention.  Not to be overlooked are the reports that Internet monitoring played a key role in the investigation. According to the Toronto Star "when CSIS began monitoring the sites allegedly used by some of the 17 men and youths arrested on terrorism-related charges in a sweeping series of raids across the GTA Friday evening, the Canadian spy agency heard enough to remain interested, and increased surveillance of the group. While CSIS and police typically won’t talk about their operational methods, the available techniques range from monitoring electronic communications, from cell phones and landlines to emails and computers, to physically following persons of interest as they move about and talk to others."

If authorities have indeed foiled a major terror threat in Canada, that is obviously welcome news.  With lawful access legislation likely on the way, I suspect that the arrests may be used to argue for stronger police powers as this will validate concerns that Canada is a terror target.  Of course, the fact that CSIS was already able to engage in significant Internet monitoring leading to 17 arrests (and even drawing praise from U.S. officials) will raise questions about what is inadequate about the current framework.


  1. Internet users in Canada (and USA among other nations) should simply assume their communications are being monitored. Besides, if you’ve got something to hide you must be a terrorist (or a child pornographer, the other hot button reason to monitor people’s internet).

  2. US Citizen says:

    This sounds a lot like the invasion of privacy techniques becoming increasingly common in the US (and, presumably, Canada and other parts of the world). However, there may be an important distinction here. If the article is read strictly, it says the monitoring began on the sites the suspects used, not on the suspects themselves. So at least to some extent, this wasn’t a massive “gather all available data and poke through it” monitoring technique, but rather an at least semi-targeted operation, focusing on web sites used by criminals. That said, who knows what site it was? Monitoring sites with no known or suspected connection to terrorism is just as invasive as monitoring everyone and trying “data mining techniques” on the results.

  3. David Sanftenberg says:

    I don’t care about CSIS monitoring my communications — I am not a terrorist or even anyone of interest. What I DO want, however, are assurances that any information gathered cannot be disclosed to an organization such as the CRIA without a court order that I am given notice and leave to appeal. In other words, I want due process.

  4. cell phone directory says:

    I agree with elford’s post above. Internet survellience by authorities shouldn’t be of concern to anyone who has nothing to hide.

  5. nothing to hide
    I don’t agree with cell phones comments. How would you like it if the govt put a camera inside everyones house that was on 24/7 ? You’ve got nothing to hide …