Ottawa: Stephen Rigby,  the top national security adviser to Prime Minister has told a Senate committee on Monday that he “is not persuaded that CSEC has tapped into Canadians’ communications via airport Wi-Fi”.

Rigby said he does not believe Canada’s ultra-secretive signals intelligence agency has done anything more than gather “metadata” and not actual communications. “It’s data about data,” said Rigby in defending the actions of Communications Security Establishment Canada.

The Federal Conservative government has conveyed that both, the foreign electronic signals agency (CSEC) or the domestic spy agency (CSIS) havebeen operating within the law and performing counter-terrorism surveillance diligently without trespassing the privacy of Canadians.

Earlier,  the documents published by Guardian newspaper suggest CSEC has worked closely with its British and American signals intelligence counterparts to develop ways to tap into apps on smartphones to track communications, even to the point of turning phone microphones on, or make them “hot” in order to listen in “live” on conversations.

CSEC has defended itself by releasing a statement which says that, “CSE is mandated to collect foreign signals intelligence to protect Canada and Canadians, and by law, only directs its foreign intelligence activities at foreign entities.

In order to fulfill this key foreign intelligence role for the country, CSEC is legally authorized to collect and analyze metadata. In simple terms, metadata is technical information used to route communications, and not the contents of a communication.

The classified document in question is a technical presentation between specialists exploring mathematical models built on everyday scenarios to identify and locate foreign terrorist threats. The unauthorized disclosure of tradecraft puts our techniques at risk of being less effective when addressing threats to Canada and Canadians.

Rigby said, “it is important to note that no Canadian or foreign travellers were tracked. No Canadian communications were, or are, targeted, collected or used. And all CSE activities include measures to protect the privacy of Canadians”.