In an email statement to The Counter Signal, the RCMP refused to say whether they utilized spyware technology on Freedom Convoy protesters.
Specifically, we asked the RCMP if they used spyware technology to monitor protesters following the invocation of the Emergencies Act; and, if so, how many personal devices had spyware covertly installed on them.
In an email statement, Sgt. Caroline Duval responded, “Your questions relate to a matter that is currently under review by a Parliamentary committee. Unfortunately, we aren’t in a position to provide further information at this time.”
“The RCMP’s general practice is not to publically disclose details of sensitive investigative tools and techniques. The nature of the tools used in criminal investigations are disclosed to the courts, both at the outset of the investigation when seeking judicial authorization, and upon disclosure in subsequent prosecutions.”
These statements come after a bombshell admission included in an RCMP document that they secretly used spyware on Canadians’ devices to get audio and visual recordings of Canadians without their knowledge.
The RCMP claim they only use such spyware in the most “serious cases,” such as when there are national security concerns. However, this is the first time the RCMP has openly admitted that they infiltrate mobile devices to collect data, despite having access to the technology for years.
They add that they’ve only used this technology in 10 investigations between 2018 and 2020. Still, there hasn’t been any disclosure on how often this technology was utilized between 2020 and the present — including whether it was used during the Freedom Convoy protests, which Trudeau believed were so serious it justified invoking the Emergencies Act.
According to the submitted RCMP document, the decision to use spyware to infiltrate Canadians’ personal devices is in response to new encryption services that make it difficult for officers to conduct court-authorized electronic surveillance.
“In less than a generation, a high number of Canadians migrated their daily communications from a small number of large telecommunication service providers, all of which provided limited and centrally controlled services to customers, to countless organizations in Canada and elsewhere that provide a myriad of digital services to customers,” the document reads.
“That decentralization, combined with the widespread use of end-to-end encrypted voice and text-based messaging services, make it exponentially more difficult for the RCMP to conduct court-authorized electronic surveillance.”
As for the scope of the spyware used, the technology can gather pictures, videos, calendar entries, financial records, audio recordings, text messages, private communications, and “photographic images of persons, places and activities viewable by the camera(s) built into the targeted device.”
If installed, it isn’t clear how long such spyware would remain on a user’s personal device.