Spy Agency Fighting Malware

Canada’s CSE is attempting to make it easier for organizations to detect malicious software in files.

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Conservatives Failed to Protect Privacy

The Liberals record? Not much better.

“I can’t answer the question about the former government, what their reasons were,” said Sajjan, also noting he does not believe any of the metadata inadvertently shared could have ended up in the hands of any countries beyond the Five Eyes.

The Establishment And Your Phone

In the good old days, Canada’s spy agencies were not supposed to spy on Canadians. Government departments are also supposed to benefit from their research into vulnerabilities in computer systems, because holes can be closed. CSE was, according to The CBC, and The Intercept, intentionally not filling holes it found in the Google App Store and a popular web browser, in order to infect targets of spying. The result is that hostile governments and hackers could also use these holes if they independently discovered them.

More Spy Stuff

The bottom half of this page is all about CSE.

Canada’s had a recent track record that’s bad. PONY EXPRESS ring a bell? So what is our watchdog really doing? Not much, judging by recent news reports.

The Pony Express Government

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.

Canadians Being Spied On

And yet our creepy Prime Minister wants this law:

Despite this being a possibility, i.e. the system makes a grave mistake:

ADDED:

When CSIS has a file on Manning, it’s no better than the FBI monitoring everyone for possible Communist tendencies.

CSEC Back In The News

Here’s an interesting bit of the process the NSA and partners are going about tracking your online activities so they can link everything you do that isn’t encrypted and disassociated from your IP address and social profiles online, to you personally. LEVITATION has been watching you, most certainly.

ADDED:

A little late for the holiday season, we’ve just learned that Canadian spy agency CSE is making a list… but they’re not checking it twice.

In fact, they’re not checking it at all. Leaked documents reveal a secret program that is spying on the use of our favourite downloading sites. This means the bulk collection of Canadians’ private information, regardless of whether they’ve been naughty or nice.1

Tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper to put an end to warrantless online spying. Today.

The sensitive data being collected about you can be used to tell everything from your sexual orientation, to your religious and political beliefs, to your medical history.

And the government’s mishandling of this data has meant innocent Canadians have lost their jobs and even been banned from entering the U.S.2

You could even end up on a government watch-list for simply clicking a link.

What’s more, Stephen Harper’s Defence Minister explicitly told us last year that CSE doesn’t spy on Canadians.3

So which is it, Harper?

This government needs to know that we don’t support their secretive, expensive, and out-of-control spying program. Send a message now.

Not only are innocent Canadians being spied on, but their sensitive information is being shared with the spy agencies of several other countries4 – and who knows what happens from there. All of this without our knowledge or consent.

Of the 10-15 million downloads CSE processes every day, they admit that only 0.00001% of them are “interesting.”5 Does that sound like effective use of a multi-billion dollar program to you?

We need to rein in CSE, and put an immediate stop to indiscriminate warrantless online spying. Tell Stephen Harper to stop spying on Canadians and wasting our tax dollars.

This could be our best chance to end out-of-control spying, but it will only work if thousands of Canadians speak out. Let’s end this now.

–David, on behalf of the OpenMedia team

P.S. The bottom line is this: ending up as a target for invasive government surveillance should never be as easy as clicking a link on a popular service, or storing a file online. Please let Ottawa decision-makers know exactly where you stand right now.

Footnotes
*CSE, formerly known as CSEC, is Canada’s spy agency
[1], [5] Canada Casts Global Surveillance Dragnet Over File Downloads. Source: The Intercept.
[2] Here’s what I told key MPs about their Online Spying Bill C-13. Source.
[3] Tories deny Canadian spy agencies are targeting Canadians. Source: Toronto Star.
[4] A look at how Canada tracked one person. Source: CBC News