Mark Collins – Canadian SIGINT/CSE: “2014-15 Annual Report: The watchdog shows his teeth”

Further to this post,

Canadian Intelligence Agencies Busted by Watchdogs

here’s a very useful and comprehensive post at Bill Robinson’s Lux Ex Umbra blog.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


3 thoughts on “Mark Collins – Canadian SIGINT/CSE: “2014-15 Annual Report: The watchdog shows his teeth””

  1. British parliamentary review committee showing some teeth–cf. Canadian bill C-51:

    ‘Snoopers scolded
    A parliamentary committee blasts government surveillance plans

    “SUPINE” and “deferential” have been some of the adjectives applied to the Intelligence and Security Committee, the nine-member body of MPs and peers which oversees Britain’s spy agencies. Unlike its counterparts in America’s Congress, it has a small staff, and it has failed to make much impact on issues such as the alleged participation of British officials in torture or rendition of suspected terrorists.

    Not any more. The committee’s report this week on the government’s draft bill on investigatory powers—termed the “Snoopers’ Charter” by critics—adopted a tone of blistering disdain. It accused the government of hurrying the bill through, said its language was in places “incomprehensible” and that the powers it authorised were far too sweeping. It bemoaned the lack of explicit protection for journalists’ sources and lawmakers. In particular, it said that the protection of individual privacy, not the promotion of spookdom, should be the centrepiece of the bill…

    … it is hard to see how, given the withering criticism it has received, the draft bill can proceed in its current form. A hurried rewrite risks running into the same difficulties as the current version. The fundamental problem is that the government has not been able to define the meaning of vital terms such as “necessary”, “proportionate” or “urgent” in a way that even sympathetic lawmakers find convincing.

    Despite the government’s pickle, the bigger point is a positive one, about Britain’s system of intelligence oversight. The same privacy advocates who once derided the Intelligence and Security Committee as a poodle are now cheering its resolve.’

    The ISC:


    “Canada looking to British model for national security committee: Goodale”

    Mark Collins

  2. But results not so bad–got to get to end of story:

    ‘Canadian electronic spy agency’s unlawful metadata sharing went on for years before being fixed

    The CSE notified Plouffe’s Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner soon after discovering the problem. Plouffe went public in his annual report, released in January, and sanctioned the agency for breaking the law — the first such rebuke in the agency’s long history.

    Speaking with reporters Monday, Plouffe said the problem was, “not accidental” but rather caused by the CSE’s “lack of due-diligence.”

    He said he is confident any personal information about Canadians contained in the metadata was caught and filtered out by a Five Eyes policy to protect such information when inadvertently collected and shared by other partners.

    The CSE issued a statement Monday in response to Plouffe’s remarks, saying, “the metadata shared does not contain enough information or context to identify specific individuals.

    “In light of this, and coupled with additional safeguards applied by CSE and its Five Eyes allies to protect the privacy of our nationals, the privacy impact is assessed as low.”’

    Mark Collins

  3. CSE Commissioner’s 2015-16 report now out:


    “…this year, the Commissioner made five recommendations to promote compliance with the law and strengthen privacy protection, including that:

    CSE keep the Minister informed of its activities to transmit to CSIS a certain type of reporting involving Canadians;
    CSE reconcile the discrepancies between its practices and the administrative requirements in the ministerial directive for a specific method of foreign signals intelligence collection;
    CSE issue guidance on marking and counting cyber defence private communications to ensure accuracy and consistency in reporting to the Minister;
    CSE make certain that future records in the Privacy Incidents File contain adequate information to describe and document each incident in a thorough manner; and
    the NDA [National Defence Act] be amended in order to clarify CSE’s authority to collect, use, retain, share and disclose metadata…”

    Mark Collins

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