Canadian spy agencies under investigation

How do you feel about the Federal Government watching your every move on the internet?  Should Canadian spy agencies be allowed to monitor your behaviour?

According to reports by Edward Snowden, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and Canadian Security Establishment Service (CSEC) have been monitoring travellers at Canadians international airports.


Canadian Government denies monitoring of Canadians

John Forster, the chief of the CSEC, stated that the Canadian cybersecurity agency does not monitor individuals, countering the reports released by U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.  In Forster’s view, by looking at long-term trends in internet communications, the monitoring program becomes a necessary steps to prevent threats to National Security

According to the Stewart Bell from the National Post, “the head of Communications Security Establishment Canada defended the collection of “metadata” on Monday, saying it helped identify foreign adversaries without snooping on the private communications of Canadians.”

Forster denied all charges that CSEC has watched the private communications of Canadians.  Forster states that denied “allegations of overzealous government electronic surveillance that have arisen as a result of leaks by Edward Snowden.”

According the Laura Payton of the CBC, “Metadata can reveal a trove of information, including, for example, the location and telephone numbers of all calls a person makes and receives. It does not include the content of the call, which would legally be considered a private communication and cannot be intercepted without a warrant.”

CSEC and CSIS seek patterns of behaviour

Forster describes CSEC operations in terms of communications to a photograph, “the picture is the content. But what comes with that picture is other bits of data around the date, the time, the focal length, the aperture, the pixels, so it’s data about it, but it’s not the picture.”[1]  Forster makes it clear that the Canadian intelligence agencies are not watching individual Canadians.

“The latest allegations came last week in the form of a CBC report claiming that CSEC had used airport Wi-Fi to track Canadian travellers, but Mr. Forster provided Senators with an unusually candid explanation of what he called the “exercise” in question.”[2]


Forster said that CSEC created a model to analyze collected data in public areas.  CSEC desires to understand Internet communications to better predict and forecast threats from foreign terrorists, hostage takers or intelligence agents.

According to the Bell, “The collection of metadata is authorized under the National Defence Act, and is done according to conditions set out by ministerial directives, Mr. Forster said, adding the program had been reviewed regularly and found lawful. Another such review, covering 2012, is now underway.”[3]


How do you feel that the Canadian government is monitoring your internet usage?  Could there be other means to gather and monitor data?  What could they be?  Please let me know in the comments below.


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