“Boomerang Routes” Send Canadian Data Through US: Researchers

University of Toronto researchers say networks of major Canadian ISPs push user data through routing hubs in New York, Chicago, Seattle, California

David Hamilton

December 18, 2015

2 Min Read
“Boomerang Routes” Send Canadian Data Through US: Researchers
(Photo by Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images)

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Article courtesy of theWHIR

A map of internet traffic routes was launched Wednesday by researchers at theUniversity of Toronto to help Canadians understand how data moves on the Internet, and specifically when it moves through the jurisdiction of the US National Security Agency. Researchers say that Canadian’s information passing through the US raises both a security issue, and a privacy issue.

Canada’s Internet infrastructure is intricately connected to US networks, and the researchers say the networks of major Canadian Internet providers push Canadian data through major routing hubs in New York, Chicago, Seattle, and California. Therefore, even though Canadians likely recognize that their interactions with popular US-based sites like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are exposed to American surveillance practices, they may be surprised to learn that interactions Canadian and even local sites often pass through “boomerang routes” that are subject to the same exposure.

“There is nothing inherently wrong with data moving unencumbered across an interconnected global Internet infrastructure,” said Andrew Clement of the University of Toronto. “It is, however, critical that Canadians understand the implications of their data being stored on U.S servers and moving through U.S. jurisdiction. ISPs need to be transparent, privacy protective and accountable custodians of user information in this regard. Internet users should be fully informed consumers and citizens when making choices about their sensitive personal data.”

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), which funded the IXmaps tool through its Community Investment Program, also invested heavily in the creation of Canada’s national network of exchange points, which allows peering and data exchanges east to west, rather than north to south. In addition to the infrastructure, the commitments and practices of ISPs are a factor in the security and privacy of Internet data, and the Canadian data traffic route web site also includes a 2014 transparency report.

While keeping data out of the NSA’s jurisdiction is likely to appeal to many Canadians,the county’s own Internet surveillance agency works with agencies in other countries to gather information, potentially raising further concerns about data security and privacy.

This first ran at http://www.thewhir.com/web-hosting-news/boomerang-routes-send-canadian-data-through-us-researchers

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