Privacy Advisor

NSA Leaks Has Canadian Officials Looking at Domestic Surveillance

June 14, 2013

By Jedidiah Bracy, CIPP/US, CIPP/E

The fallout from the U.S. National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance programs has Canadian officials, including Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, looking at the Canadian government’s surveillance of phone and Internet records. AFP reported earlier this week that Defense Minister Peter MacKay signed a directive in 2011 renewing a program that sifted through phone and Internet records to detect suspicious activity. Operated by the Department of National Defense’s Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), the program is used to “isolate and identify foreign communications, as CSEC is prohibited by law from directing its activities at Canadians,” CSEC spokesman Ryan Foreman said.

In response to the CSEC programs, Stoddart said Canadians need to be better informed about what data the government collects about them, and she plans to meet with the head of CSEC.

“Obviously, a lot of this cannot be discussed openly because it is national intelligence information, but (CSE Commissioner Robert Décary) himself is calling for more transparency,” she said.

Stoddart also said she would contact other data protection officials from around the globe to discuss the NSA’s programs. Office of the Privacy Commissioner Spokesman Scott Hutchinson said, “Our office has been following developments as reported on this matter, and the scope of information reportedly being collected raises significant concerns.”

In a Q&A for The National Post, Ashkan Soltani, an independent Washington-based technology consultant, discussed four programs that have come to light from the NSA disclosures and said to expect more revelations about top secret programs in the near future.

A group of researchers out of the University of Victoria said they plan to draw attention to domestic spying in Canada, MetroNews reports. The Canadian Access to Social Media Information project has shown the difficulty for citizens to find out how social media companies use and share their data internally and with law enforcement, the report states.

In a column for The Regina Leader Post, Greg Fingas writes about “some of the key differences between the laws governing the U.S. and Canada—as well as why the distinction matters less than we’d like to think.”

Read more by Jedidiah Bracy:
NSA Leaks: EU-U.S. Tensions on the Rise, Europe Reacts
AUSTRALIA—NSA Leaks Reach Australian Shores
Tech Firms, Lawmakers Respond to NSA Leak
NSA Leak Continues To Send Shockwaves Through Privacy World