OTTAWA, Ontario (LifeSiteNews) — Canada’s federal government admitted it covertly tracked the cell phones of 33 million Canadians throughout the COVID crisis, using cell tower data to determine population movement patterns.
According to a report from Blacklock’s Reporter, a secret tracking program initiated by the Canadian federal government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that ran for months was disclosed this Monday.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) claimed the tracking was done to understand the “public’s responsiveness during lockdown measures.”
According to Mark Johnson, a spokesman for PHAC, the “urgency of the pandemic” justified the agency to collect and use “mobility data such as cell tower location data throughout the COVID-19 response.”
“It was to help understand possible links between the movement of populations within Canada and COVID,” claimed Johnson, who also said that the program has been made public to be “open and transparent.”
As reported by Blacklocks Reporter, Johnson said that the cost of the program was not made public, but the agency’s “Analysis and findings from the mobility data” has been “regularly shared with provinces and territories.”
Surveillance was done throughout the pandemic to “analyze population movement data to better understand the public’s responsiveness during lockdown measures,” said Johnson.
Indeed, the government of Canada currently has a federal contract notice tender out which indicates that PHAC wants to permanently use cell tower tracking for up to the next five years.
The “Operator-based Location Data and Services for Public Health Mobility Analysis” Request for Proposal (RFP) has a closing date of January 21, 2022.
The summary of the RFP reads:
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) requires access to cell-tower/operator location data that is secure, processed, and timely in addition to being adequately vetted for security, legal, privacy and transparency considerations to assist in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and for other public health applications. Aggregated indicators derived from cell-tower/operator location data provide insightful information and allow for meaningful analysis on the mobility (or movement) of populations in Canada. These analyses and findings provide situational awareness and help inform policy, public health messaging, evaluation of public health measures, and other aspects related to public health response, programming, planning and preparedness.
The RFP notice says that there are two types of location data, “crowdsourced (i.e. mobile apps on Android/iOS devices) and mobile cell-tower/operator data (i.e. cellular service providers).”
“PHAC requires continued access to mobile operator-based data as it provides the largest, most stable and representative sample of the Canadian population. In addition to this, PHAC requires cell-tower/operator data that is ‘ready for analyses.’ This includes ensuring controls are in place to adequately addresses ethical, privacy, and transparency considerations,” reads the RFP.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds in Canada and the world, analysis of location data continues to be an important part of the federal response. Beyond the pandemic mobility data will play an important role in understanding population movement impact on other public health challenges. This data when combined with other data sources for analysis can generate important public health insights such as the ability to estimate impact of public health outcomes and risk factors.”
According to Johnson, PHAC will use the mobility data to describe and “analyze population level trends.”
Johnson claimed that the data is not to be used to “track or monitor individuals,” and that contractors must clean and process the data they collect.
“Based on the agency’s COVID-19 experience and learnings from other countries, it aims to establish a long term supply of cell tower mobility data to help advance initiatives related to public health challenges including other infectious diseases,” said Johnson, as reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.
Earlier this year, Jay Cameron, litigation manager for the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), told LifeSiteNews that cellphone tracking done involuntarily is a “flagrant” violation of one’s constitutional rights.
“Warrantless government monitoring of citizen’s cell phones, including location and data tracking, is a flagrant infringement of privacy rights, illegal and unconstitutional,” Cameron told LifeSiteNews.
Over the past year and a half, there were hints that governments in Canada were using or planning to use people’s cell phone data to determine travel patterns, all done supposedly in the name of fighting COVID.
Indeed, just a few weeks into the COVID crisis in Canada, reports surfaced that the federal government was looking into using Canadians cell phone location data to track people’s movements.
In January of 2021, Premier of Ontario Doug Ford said that cellphone data his government is privy to indicated that many in his province were not following COVID quarantine restrictions. This raised many questions as to how the cell data was obtained.
In 2020, a former contractor for the CIA turned whistleblower Edward Snowden warned that surveillance measures many governments around the world are using in the name of combating COVID could end up becoming a permanent reality of life.