CSEC Exonerated

Mr Jean-Pierre Plouffe, CSEC watchdog, has determined that CSEC is off the hook,it did not direct any activity at Canadians or persons in Canada.  He’s hanging his hat on the distinction between “collecting metadata” and “tracking Canadians”.  I guess if CSEC activity isn’t “directed” at Canadians, then CSEC bears no responsibility if it just happens  to capture data from Canadians by spying on…um…somebody in Canadian airports.

Ron Deibert, a cyber expert who wrote the book (literally) on cyber snooping says the ruling “makes a mockery of public accountability and oversight.”

Ms Cavoukian

Ontario’s privacy commissioner, the inimitable Ann Cavoukian, is appalled and says Mr Plouffe’s reasoning is “doublespeak”—a very fitting description in our increasingly Orwellian world.

Ms Cavoukian urges all Canadians to write to their MPs to insist on appropriate oversight of CSEC by a parliamentary committee.  I’d suggest you copy your email to Justin Trudeau and Wayne Easter so they know we haven’t forgotten this violation of our rights in the flurry of election reform bills and whatever else the Conservatives plan to hurl at us in the coming few weeks.

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9 Responses to CSEC Exonerated

  1. I’m sorry to say, we have here a classic example of “regulatory capture”

    • Carlos Beca says:

      David I call it something way more appropriate.
      A message is getting ready for my MP. Not that he is going to read it, but just in case. He is way busier trying to figure out if the earth is actually round or not.

      • David and Carlos: Agreed. According to the CBC story, Mr Plouffe, the head of the CSEC “watchdog”, is a semi-retired judge who performs his duties on a part-time basis. His investigation consisted almost entirely of talking to CSEC. He reports to Rob Nicholson, the Minister of Defence who is, as it happens, also responsible for CSEC. Mr Plouffe’s investigation is woefully inadequate and further supports Opposition parties’ demand for an overhaul of the oversight process. We need to keep writing letters to our MPs with copies to the leaders of the opposition parties. We can’t let this one fade away once it drops off the media’s radar screen.

      • Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian is tireless in her efforts to educate Canadians on the seriousness of the federal government’s refusal to make CSEC accountable for warrantless surveillance of Canadians. In a recent interview with CTV News she said the CSEC commissioner’s investigation was “circular”. Instead of initiating an independent technical forensic audit, the CSEC commissioner based his conclusion that all was well on information provided to him by CSEC employees. That’s a little like asking your kids to fess up to breaking the living room window so that you can dock their allowance for a month. Here’s the interview : http://bit.ly/1iWg6DM
        She also reiterated her point that collecting metadata is even more invasive than ordinary surveillance because metadata allows CSEC to “connect the dots” and build up a very detailed profile of an individual. The Commissioner has prepared a Primer on Metadata outlining its perils. Here’s the link http://www.realprivacy.ca/index.php/paper/primer-metadata-separating-fact-fiction/ . It’s well worth a read.

  2. Linda says:

    Trying to figure out the correct term for our governments. Would they be “Banana Republics” (implies much better climate than we experience), Tin Pot Dictatorships (though we provide our elected governments and their appointed Inner Circles with substantial income, more comparable to Silver Spoons, Crystal , the best Champagne and Caviar). Perhaps they are simply The New “Corrupt to The Core,” who have simply come to permeate and own those in all levels of provincial and local government and managment ranks throughout, and who feel accountability only to those that they think will lead to their sole goal of retaining power – regardless of the cost to their citizens, those not in the inner circles, but instead complete subservience to those that they have themselves appointed, those who serve their Corporate interests above all else., and are able to convince, bribe or otherwise co-opt those with the decision-making powers.

    • Great comments Linda! Our “public servants” have turned into “corporate servants”. Harper and Redford have gone to great lengths to protect corporations (most of which are global conglomerates, not Canadian companies) with bailouts, tax breaks and lax environmental and health and safety enforcement at the expense of public services (education, healthcare, eldercare, pharmaceuticals etc). This can’t continue much longer.

  3. Bill Talbot says:

    The Blase Backbencher says, “Our government does not support increased surveillance in Canada. That is why we refuse to create any oversight committees to start spying on CSEC.”

  4. goinfawr says:

    Stalk one person: illegal. Stalk everyone: Hocus Pocus! It’s ‘metadata’! Tadaaa!
    Apparently, keeping tabs on where someone is, to whom they are talking, what internet services they use and when, for weeks on end, is not tracking, never ‘tracking’, it’s just ‘collecting metadata’- and if you’ll buy that I’ve got some ocean-front property in Cowtown for sale

    Good grief when are Canadians going to realize that this gov’t is using their own hard labour against them; by surveilling them on behalf of private business. Without exaggerating at all, by definition, that is fascism.

    • Well put Goinfawr. I just learned friend that Alberta’s Health Minister says Alberta now has the critical mass to be able to collect and “share” our confidential medical information with third parties (pharmaceutical companies?). I don’t know all the details but this sounds like an extension of what’s already in place. For example, when you sign a consent form authorizing a doctor to do a colonoscopy you’re also giving the doctor a blanket consent to use the results of your tests in medical research. Research is one thing, but selling private medical information to businesses like pharmaceutical companies under a blanket consent that you must sign to have a medically necessary procedure is something else. I’m not sure whether we’ve crossed this line yet, but it won’t be long before Alberta will be one giant laboratory for the health sciences industry (something that Thomas Lucaszuk was pushing at the BioBuzz conference in Boston last year).

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