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Canada’s privacy commissioner is going to audit the federal government for spying on 33 million devices without Canadians’ consent. The move was prompted by the revelation that the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) secretly monitored the movements of the public using cell tower data. As first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter, PHAC claimed that the surveillance was a way to track the success of COVID-19 measures and that the data had been “de-identified” of personal information. However, in an exclusive interview with True North, Ontario’s former privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian stated that Canadians should have “zero trust” in the government’s assurances. She had also called for privacy commissioners to probe the government’s activities. “They are collecting all of this mobile data. 33 million mobile devices and mobile devices are usually linked to personal identifiers, and you have to take some measures to remove them and de-identify the data in a strong way so it can’t be reidentified. We have no assurances to that effect whatsoever,” Cavoukian told True North. “I don’t trust any of this. Zero trust, that’s where we have to start, and we have to have some privacy commissioner’s office go in and take a look at this under the hood. Audit what they’re doing.”

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