When Bell Canada’s website was hacked last year — and the accounts and passwords of more than 12,000 Canadians posted online — the Federal Bureau of Investigation was not only watching, but letting the hackers stage the attack from what was secretly an FBI server.
Christopher Parsons, a postdoctoral fellow who studies state access to telecommunication data at the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs in Toronto, said it made “good tactical sense” that the FBI used confidential informants and an undercover server to build their case.
It was the fact they did nothing to stop the crime before it occurred that makes this case unusual, Parsons said.
“In this case it sounds like the FBI had that ability, had that option to prevent these things from happening, perhaps with a weaker case, but instead they opted to endanger innocents in order to build a stronger case,” said Parsons. “The problem there is there is no indication Bell had been notified. This wasn’t dummy data that was released — this was live, real customer data.”