Canadian Spy Agency: We Spied on Canadian Residents "Incidentally"
January 13, 2014 1:27 PM
(Source: South Park Studios)
This is the first time the CSE has admitted to spying on Canadians while looking for foreign targets
Leaks by former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden have brought many reviews, questions and even
to the government agency. Now, it looks like Canada's foreign intelligence agency could receive similar treatment as its actions have now come under the microscope as well.
According to the
, the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSE) -- which is Canada's spy agency -- admitted that it has “incidentally” spies on Canadians while searching for foreign intelligence.
“In the course of targeting foreign entities outside Canada in an interconnected and highly networked world, it is possible that we may incidentally intercept Canadian communications or information,” said the CSE.
The CSE went on to say that it protects the privacy of Canadian residents' information, and that it will attempt to be more transparent by revealing how the agency operates in the coming months.
However, many say that the CSE will likely avoid directly addressing information from the Snowden leaks. The CSE will likely say it knows the law rather than say whether it followed the law or not.
This is the first time the CSE has admitted to spying on Canadians.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), which is the sister agency to the CSE, is also in hot water. CSIS and five Justice Department lawyers have reportedly lied to a Federal Court about how warrants would be used.
Back in 2009, the lawyers looked to obtain warrants for the CSIS, which would allow it to gather electronic intelligence on Canadians overseas if they were suspected as domestic national security threats. The warrants were given based on the understanding that the electronic intercepts were to be carried out from "passive" Canada-based listening posts because the federal court cannot authorize spying in foreign territory.
The CSE took care of the technical side of the intercepts, and once the warrants were approved, CSE -- on behalf of the CSIS -- gave the job to one or more of its partners in the “Five Eyes” electronic intelligence-gathering alliance, which includes Canada, the U.S., Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
CSIS then reportedly omitted information in applications for the warrants (along with the five lawyers) about their intention to use assistance of the Five Eyes.
Snowden leaked details about the NSA's secret spy programs to the media early last year. In August 2013, reports said that the NSA admitted to
touching 1.6 percent of total globe Web traffic
. Its technique was to filter data after harvesting it, which led to over-collection on a major scale. It was later revealed that Snowden conned between 20 to 25 NSA employees to
give him their login credentials and passwords
while working at the NSA regional operations center for a month in Hawaii last spring. Snowden reportedly told the NSA employees that he needed their passwords in order to do his job, and after downloading secret NSA documents, he leaked the information to the media.
Snowden told the media last month that his
mission is complete
after spending the last year leaking secret NSA documents.
"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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