Researchers at the University of Toronto announced today that IXmaps, a visual, interactive database of Internet traffic routes, is now live. The tool, funded by the .CA Community Investment Program, helps Canadians understand how their Internet traffic moves, and how certain traffic routes (known as ‘boomerang routes’) move data through the United States and into the jurisdiction of the U.S. National Security Agency before returning to Canada.
Canada’s Internet infrastructure is intimately linked to U.S. networks. Many of the major Internet providers in Canada have networks that favour north – south connections, pushing Canadian data flows toward key American routing hubs in New York, Chicago, Seattle or California. The most popular sites Canadians visit online, such as Google, Facebook, Youtube or Amazon, are based in the United States. When using these services, Canadians likely recognize the fact that their data leaves exclusive Canadian jurisdiction and is exposed to American mass surveillance under such laws as the Patriot Act. Canadians may be surprised to learn however that when accessing Canadian sites, even those in the same city, their data often still flows through the United States. IXmaps research has found thousands of Internet traffic routes in which both ends of a data transfer are located in Canada, but the information travels via the U.S. These are known as boomerang routes. Exposing private or sensitive data, such as health information, student records, political affiliation, religious beliefs, financial information, controversial viewpoints or intimate communications, to foreign surveillance is highly…