How Canadian companies can fight surveillance

Canadian Internet Service Providers are eerily silent when it comes to information about whether or not they have assisted ultra-secretive spy agency CSEC with their surveillance of law-abiding Canadians. Jon Penney discusses what Canadian companies can do to help fight surveillance. Article by Jon Penney for The Citizen Lab The Communications Security Establishment’s surveillance practices raise significant privacy concerns but full answers, transparency, or substantive reforms ensuring democratic oversight from either CSEC, or the Canadian Government, are not likely forthcoming. Canadians should also care about what to do in the meantime. Professor Michael Geist has recently posted about what average Canadians can do about mass online surveillance and Professor Kent Roach has written about where to direct reforms. Here, I want to talk about what Canadian internet companies can do, or do differently, to help fill Canada’s transparency void. Last week, CSEC chief John Forster appeared before the Senate’s national defence committee and did little more than deny allegations of mass surveillance on Canadians, while Senators struggled to pin him down. Given the Prime Minister’s vote of confidence in CSEC, via his top security advisor, any change, or full accounting of the agency’s activities, is unlikely anytime soon.

This is remarkably similar to how things played out in the United States, at the federal level, when Edward Snowden first leaked documents on the National Security Agency (NSA)’s own mass surveillance programs. In response, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appeared before a U.S. Senate committee last March and flatly denied any mass data collection on Americans (denials, by the way, that turned out to be false). President Obama, like our Prime Minister did with CSEC, expressed confidence in the NSA. And that was that. At least until the next Snowden leaks.

Read more at The Citizen Lab

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