Watchdog reveals concerns about potential spying on Canadian residents

by Andrew Roach on August 23, 2013

Over the past couple of months, it has emerged that several major nations such as the US and the UK have monitored the internet and data use of citizens throughout the country.

Now, a security watchdog believes that Canadian government agencies are doing the same and are calling for senior ministers to reveal what they have been keeping track on over the last year.

The comments came from the CSE Canada Watchdog Commissioner Robert Decary who revealed his concern at some of the activity going on at the national surveillance agency.

His views come as officials in Canada aim to avoid getting into a similar situation to the NSA in the US whose reputation came into serious question during the PRISM scandal.

Decary’s report has flagged concerns as the agency had failed to give detailed reports about some of their actions leaving massive holes in some cases.

With the watchdog not having enough information to review actions thoroughly, it has raised the question as to whether the CSEC had been acting within the law or not.

If the agency had indeed been found to have collected data on certain individuals, it would place the agency in hot water as national law prevents information being collected on citizens without them being a direct threat to national security.

The matter has become a great concern for Decary who believes that the government has failed to ensure the privacy of Canadian citizens to remain untouched. This was touched upon in comments made to CBC where he said: “I am deeply
disappointed at the lack of action by the government, which is no longer in a minority situation, to address the ambiguities identified by my predecessors and myself.”

Despite these fears, senior CSEC officials have distanced themselves from the report saying any inaccuracies or gaps were mainly done to accounting errors more than anything else.

They also added that many of the issues at hand were related to some small cases at the start of the century and all took place on foreign soil maintaining that they have done nothing illegal.

Amid these comments, the office of Defence Minister Rob Nicholson re-affirmed that agencies need to act within the law and that any matters involving online privacy would be taken “with utmost importance.”

Current commissioner Decary is set to leave his post at the end of the year so whoever fills his position is going to really be on the ball from the start to ensure that online privacy laws are stuck to at all times.

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Written by: Andrew Roach www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube

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