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From the fictional files of the NSA: How snooping on Canadians might look

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From the fictional files of the NSA

Report No.: 466
Date: 06/08/13
To: [Name redacted], National Security Agency, Washington
From: [Name redacted], Canada Station, Ottawa
Subject: Prism Program

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Revelations of the Prism program have sparked some controversy here. People here are checking their Facebook pages, e-mail, their searches via Google, and even their iTunes purchases.

Online news services are reporting denial of the program's existence from the major Internet and technology companies, including Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft, putting the focus on the National Security Agency for targeting their data under the Prism scheme.

As for the recent results of the program, as I have reported earlier, Canadians are generally a quiet group, so often there is little to learn from my Prism observations here.

(There are also just three big cellphone companies, so it is not difficult to monitor Canadian data.)

What follows is what I have learned since my last report a month ago:

Intercepted BBM message from Prime Minister to Chief of Staff (since resigned from post)

You gave him HOW MUCH?

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Intercepted memo

To: PR Department
From: President, Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver
Re: Approval of monthly sales press release

I don't like the wording. Can we please refer to it as a "balanced" market?

Recent iTunes purchase by Justin Bieber

The Beatles: Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey

Intercepted e-mail

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From Harper, Stephen
To: Flaherty, Jim
Subject: Statscan jobs report

Assume you saw the 95K jump in jobs? And that you'll be out there blowing our horn? Remember, it's the Harper government.

Keystrokes from Google search by Toronto Councillor Doug Ford

How many T's in maggot?

YouTube viewing by Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz

How to be a rock star:

Recent iTunes purchase by Nigel Wright

Lady Gaga: Money Honey

Intercepted e-mail (you have probably already seen)

From: Harper, Stephen
To: Obama, Barack
Subject: Keystone

Approve the damn thing already, or we'll re-route it to China.

YouTube viewing by Mark Carney

So long, suckers!:

Recent iTunes purchase by Mike Duffy

Rolling Stones: Ain't Too Proud to Beg

Recent iTunes purchase by Barrick Gold Corp. vice-chairman John Thornton

Katy Perry: If You Can Afford me

Intercepted e-mails

To: Redford, Alison
From: Clark, Christy
Subject: Northern Gateway

Hey, girl, sorry about all those things I said. Election, you understand.

From: Redford, Alison
To: Clark, Christy
Subject: Northern Gateway

Consider it forgotten. Can we do this thing now?

From: Clark Christy
To: Redford, Alison
Subject: 'We don't need Alberta'

See original quote in subject line, and add "still."

What The Globe and Mail covered this week

Canada's "middle-skill" employment sector continues to erode alongside the growth of high-skill jobs, an indication that the labour market is splintering between well-paid, interesting, permanent jobs – and the rest, Tavia Grant reports.

Swiss International Air Lines has overhauled its short-haul network with a strategy that uses high-speed railways to feed into hub airports, Eric Reguly reports from Zurich.

Canada's telecom regulator is making it easier for consumers to switch wireless providers, the centrepiece of a set of reforms aimed at creating greater competition and lower prices. Rita Trichur and Steve Ladurantaye report.

Canadians bought more than 185,000 new vehicles in May – the second-highest monthly total on record – spurred by rebates and cheap loans, solid employment growth and rising consumer confidence, Greg Keenan writes.

After sparking a dramatic overhaul at Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., activist investor Bill Ackman is taking some of his money off the table, Richard Blackwell and Guy Dixon report.

The federal government isn't giving up on its efforts to see a fourth wireless carrier in every regional market, rejecting Telus Corp.'s controversial bid to buy struggling upstart Mobilicity, but leaving the door wide open to industry consolidation down the road, Rita Trichur and Sean Silcoff write.

The International Monetary Fund admitted it underestimated the damage that austerity would inflict on Greece, offering key evidence in the global debate about cutbacks versus stimulus, Eric Reguly reports.

Penn West Petroleum Ltd. is overhauling its finances, chopping jobs and bringing in new leadership, joining a growing list of Canadian energy companies that are rewriting their strategies in an effort to boost flagging returns, Carrie Tait.

Stephen Poloz likes to talk in metaphor, suggesting a new approach in Bank of Canada communication. Kevin Carmichael reports on the new central bank governor's first parliamentary committee appearance.

The week in Business Briefing

The week in Streetwise (for subscribers)

Economy Lab

The week in ROB Insight (for subscribers)

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About the Author
Report on Business News Editor

Michael Babad is a Report on Business editor and co-author of three business books. He has been with Report on Business for several years, and has also been a reporter and editor at The Toronto Star, The Financial Post and United Press International. His articles have appeared in major newspapers around the world. More


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