Canada caught up in international privacy row

by Andrew Roach on December 12, 2013

It seems that the ugly issue of privacy is set to come to the boil once again as more leaked documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden throw more allegations against some of the world’s biggest powers.

This time, the Canadian government are firmly in the spotlight with some of the documents claiming that the Communication Securities Establishment Canada (CSEC) spied on allies at the request of the NSA.

The spying was thought to evolve hacking large international databases and intercepting communications from foreign countries.

There has been a lot of focus on international privacy in recent months after Snowden initially revealed that the NSA in America had spied and accessed thousands of confidential documents regarding to public communications over the past few years.

Although international spying is nothing new to the world, the fact that CSEC could have spied on up to 20 different nations has got many people in the press speculating about the government’s actions.

The report didn’t name any countries involved in the scandal but the reports have stated that the actions were carried out in a joint operation with the NSA in Washington.

After coming under increasing scrutiny in the past couple of days, CSEC have defended their actions saying that everything they did was done as a legitimate part of their service to protect the country from international threats.

When asked about why they intercept foreign communications, the body stated that they had a duty to act in the interest of national safety declaring to the press that their role is “to protect Canadians from threats, and we take that responsibility very seriously.”

As the allegations intensified, it caused several fractures in Parliament where Defence Minister Rob Nicholson stood his ground on the matter declaring that all actions performed by CSEC had been overseen and reviewed by an independent commissioner.

Despite this, NDP MP Jack Harris was one of several politicians to question the entire set-up and see if a review of the current security bodies was needed to ensure that all their activities were lawful.

The allegations surrounding CSEC are very serious and the government will need to tread carefully in the next few weeks to prevent any overspill from damaging relations with important allies across the globe.

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