Ontario’s privacy commissioner said she’s concerned with the privacy protections on smartphone apps that may be being exploited by spy agencies to access personal information.
"Every single thing that we seem to engage in digitally is being tracked and data is being collected," said Ann Cavoukian. "How is that acceptable? Who signed up for that? No one signed up for that."
New documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show spy agencies taking advantage of leaks in popular smartphone apps to harvest information.
The documents also show Google Maps was also targeted.
"We need to go deeper, why are they doing this?" Cavoukian said. "We need a wakeup call, the public does not want this and it’s time for us to get some answers."
On Tuesday, which also marked International Data Privacy Day, the interim federal privacy commissioner released a report calling for greater accountability for spy agencies on what they do with Canadians personal information.
Cyber-security expert Ron Deibert said many people download apps without understanding the consequences.
"A lot of the applications routinely give themselves permission to extract all of our contacts from our email addresses and store that in a server somewhere — that’s a goldmine for intelligence agencies," said Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at University of Toronto.
He said spy agencies can learn a lot about a person with the data.
"People's characteristics, their age, their place of work, most importantly, their social relationships, their habits," Deibert said.
One smartphone user who CBC Toronto spoke to said he is concerned about security, but being watched is slowly becoming a fact of life.
"I should be more aware, but I’m not. Like, it’s not something I think about every time I open a game," he told the CBC’s Steven D’Souza. "I'm under the impression as a young person that I'm always being watched, so I’m mindful of that."