VANCOUVER, BC – The federal government responded for the first time yesterday to new revelations that Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) coordinated with the the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) in a widespread surveillance operation on Canadian soil during the 2010 G-8 and G-20 summits in Toronto. The BCCLA says that the government’s response to these allegations is woefully inadequate.
The government has declined to respond to the details of these latest revelations, claiming secrecy over intelligence operations.
The federal government has stated that Canada’s “security organizations have independent oversight mechanisms to ensure that they fulfil their mandate in accordance with the law.”
The BCCLA responded that while there is a commissioner charged with reviewing the legality of CSEC activities once an operation has concluded, this does not resolve the obvious questions about CSEC’s role at the G-8 and G-20 summits.
“The government’s response fails to address the question of whether CSEC acted illegally in this G20 spying scheme with the United States” said Caily DiPuma, legal counsel for the BCCLA. “We have no information about whether the CSEC commissioner – the oversight body they refer to – has ever considered the legality of this US-Canada G20 spying partnership. The commissioner’s budget is so minuscule compared to CSEC that its nearly impossibly for there to be any meaningful oversight. Even worse, the CSEC Commissioner hasn’t given CSEC a clean bill of legal health – his latest report stated that he was ‘unable to reach a definitive conclusion about compliance or non-compliance with the law’ in certain CSEC operations.”
For more than 50 years, the BCCLA has fought to defend the privacy rights of Canadians. In light of shocking revelations concerning mass surveillance of Canadian lives by our own government, the BCCLA is taking Canada’s spy agency CSEC to court.