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Canada is monitoring its citizens' file downloads, according to Snowden documents

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Dennis Jarvis / Flickr

Most of the Snowden documents have concerned the American NSA or British GCHQ, but a new report from The Intercept shows Canada has a mass surveillance apparatus of its own. According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the Canadian Security Establishment (or CSE) is actively monitoring file uploads and downloads from a number of popular file-sharing sites, including RapidShare, SendShare, and the now-defunct MegaUpload. Dubbed LEVITATION, the system analyzes as many as 15 million file transfers a day.

The vast majority of the traffic is simple file-sharing — in one document, an analyst describes the system as being clogged with "episodes of Glee" — but the system flags roughly 350 files each month that are tagged as "interesting" and investigated for national security implications. Like the NSA's bulk collection programs, the LEVITATION system operates without conventional court oversight, raising troubling questions about the privacy of Canadian citizens. The CSE lifts the data by tapping directly into internet cables, similar to a previously revealed GCHQ operation in Cyprus. Reached by The Intercept, the Canadian government defended the program, saying, "CSE is legally authorized to collect and analyze metadata, including from parts of the Internet routinely used by terrorists."