CSE has undertaken a domestic spy operation that is illegal in Canada, because it’s spying on communication of Canadian citizens. CSE is supposed to only spy on foreigners, and the Commissioner overseeing the signals intelligence agency is supposed to put a stop to any overstepping of that mandate. Something clearly has gone awry in a grave way.
PONY EXPRESS should not exist in Canada nor should every (paper) letter mailed by Canadians be photographed, as the US is doing. Claiming the mandate CSE has to protect government computers overrides its restriction on conducting a mass surveillance operation of Canadians’ communications, doesn’t pass even a smell test.
Under the Criminal Code, CSE is barred from targeting the content of Canadians’ emails and phone calls, but it gets special ministerial exemptions when protecting government IT infrastructure.
The restriction on spying on Canadians is precisely for preventing twisted ‘logic’ to allow this sort of violation of Canadians’ privacy.
IT security analysts at CSE only use and retain information “necessary and relevant to identify, isolate or prevent harm to government of Canada computer networks or systems,” the agency told CBC News in a written statement. Data that poses no threat or is not relevant to that goal “cannot be used or retained, and is deleted.”
Civil liberties lawyer Vonn argues that there’s “much more” Canadians should be told about the agency’s collection of their data, such as how long it’s held, without putting national security at risk.
We need a more aggressive civil liberties lawyer to sue our government to stop this sort of breach, but with a bill like C-51 on the table, I see why they’re too timid.