Federal prison authorities are under criminal investigation for possible illegal surveillance, The Globe and Mail has learned. The probe centres on Correctional Service Canada’s use of a dragnet surveillance device inside a penitentiary.
Fallout from the 2015 surveillance incident, involving a device that CSC officials called a “cellular grabber,” has led to a lawsuit from jail guards and a criminal inquiry by the Ontario Provincial Police.
Under the Criminal Code, indiscriminate surveillance campaigns can be deemed crimes that merit prison sentences. Federal security officials do not get blanket exemptions, even if they themselves work to manage prisons.
The case at hand started with a desire to locate prisoners’ contraband cellphones, but ended up with a warden apologizing to his own staff for inadvertently spying on them.
The make and model of the device in question are being withheld from the public, which generally is familiar with such machines by names such as “Stingrays,” “cell-site simulators” or “IMSI catchers.”