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Stingrays: Canadian law enforcement’s worst-kept secret

It's time for an informed debate about the use of these spying tools -- and for that we need transparency from police.

As you may have seen yesterday from Matthew Braga at Vice (along with more details this morning from Colin Freeze at The Globe & Mail), the Toronto Police are using invasive cell phone surveillance devices, commonly referred to as Stingrays.

This fresh revelation is further evidence that invasive Stingray cell phone surveillance devices are being used right here in Canada.

Stingrays are now the worst kept secret amongst Canada’s law enforcement agencies. As more and more cases are being revealed, it’s clear that it’s time for a national discussion about privacy. We deserve an informed debate about the appropriateness of using these devices in a democratic society, and for that we need transparency from police.

Your OpenMedia team is on the case: earlier this year, we filed an intervention with the BC Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, regarding the Vancouver Police Department’s refusal to disclose information about whether they’ve been using these technologies. We have also filed a formal complaint with the federal Privacy Commissioner regarding the RCMP’s use of Stingrays.

This development also underlines the need for a broader national discussion about the role that Canada’s law enforcement should have in protecting, not violating, our personal privacy. 

Given the extreme potential of Stingrays to compromise their personal information and data, Canadians deserve to know that these tools are being used with clear transparency, accountability, and responsible data management requirements. The federal government should be demanding answers about their use, and looking to implement safeguards to protect our privacy and security​. 

Read more about these developments at Vice and The Globe & Mail, and add your voice to our calls for transparency by joining nearly 40,000 others in speaking up at


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