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New revelations show Canadian government spying on its trading partners at behest of United States

Citizen-backed OpenMedia.ca says the revelations show that spy agency CSEC is reckless, out-of-control, and not accountable to Canadians

  • CSEC set up hidden spy posts around the world to conduct espionage against Canadian trading partners. This spying was done at the request of the U.S. NSA.
  • “Canada is involved with the huge American intelligence agency in clandestine surveillance activities in “approximately 20 high-priority countries."
  • CSEC and the U.S. NSA have, according to the CBC, become “physically intertwined” - with American spies working inside of CSEC.
  • The NSA is also supplying CSEC with much of the computer hardware and software it requires for carrying out electronic spying operations.

Experts quoted by the CBC say tonight’s news could have serious consequences for Canada’s relationships overseas. The University of Ottawa’s Wesley Wark stated that exposed spying operations endanger: "the political contacts, the trade contacts, the generation of goodwill between the countries and any sense of cooperation." Professor Wark also highlighted how the news could put everyone working at Canadian embassies abroad under a “cloud of suspicion”.

These developments come hot on the heels of recent revelations about how CSEC enabled a massive U.S. spying operation on Canadian soil against Canada’s G-20 partners - espionage aimed at supporting “U.S. policy goals” during the contentious Toronto G-20 summit. Leaked documents also recently revealed that CSEC engaged in economic espionage against Brazil at the behest of the U.S. - prompting Brazil’s President Rousseff to take to Twitter to denounce Canada.

Responding to tonight's fresh developments, OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson said: "If CSEC is engaging in activities at the behest of the U.S. government I think we all have to wonder what they are doing with the sensitive private data of law-abiding Canadians stored in their giant databases. CSEC, and the government’s Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, have thus far refused to answer simple questions about how many Canadians are caught up in dragnet spying, what information they are storing on us, and what governments they are sharing that data with.”

Anderson continued: "Canadians are spending billions on a spy agency that is doing tremendous damage to our overseas relationships, and which seems to serve U.S. - not Canadian - interests. How much did we pay for this spying activity in 20 countries for the U.S. government? The government must stop hiding the truth - Canadians need an informed, democratic debate about how their tax dollars are spent and how to rein in CSEC."

CSEC has an annual budget of over $420 million, and taxpayers are spending over $4 billion to build and operate a new CSEC headquarters, described as “the most expensive government building ever built” and as a “spy palace”.

In August, the government’s then watchdog over CSEC said he believes the agency may have been spying on Canadians. In October, OpenMedia.ca joined with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) to announce a court challenge that aims to stop all illegal government spying against Canadians. Both OpenMedia.ca and the BCCLA are also working with over 40 major Canadian organizations in the Protect our Privacy Coalition to demand effective legal measures to protect Canadians’ privacy from government spies.

Over 27,000 Canadians have spoken out about government spying in recent months at: https://openmedia.ca/csec and http://OurPrivacy.ca

About OpenMedia.ca

OpenMedia.ca is a network of people and organizations working to safeguard the possibilities of the open Internet. We work toward informed and participatory digital policy.

Through campaigns such as StopTheMeter.ca and StopSpying.ca, OpenMedia.ca has engaged over half-a-million Canadians, and has influenced public policy and federal law.

About OpenMedia.ca’s privacy campaign

OpenMedia.ca led the successful StopSpying.ca campaign that forced the government to back down on its plans to introduce a costly, invasive, and warrantless online spying law (Bill C-30). Nearly 150,000 Canadians took part in the campaign. To learn more, see this infographic.

Earlier this year, OpenMedia.ca launched its Secret Spying campaign, to demand answers and immediate action from the government after it was revealed that a secretive government agency has been spying on the telephone and Internet activities of individuals, including law-abiding Canadians.

On October 10, 2013 OpenMedia.ca collaborated with over 35 major organizations and over a dozen academic experts to form the Protect Our Privacy Coalition, which is the largest pro-privacy coalition in Canadian history. The Coalition is calling for effective legal measures to protect the privacy of every resident of Canada against intrusion by government entities.

OpenMedia.ca and the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) recently announced they will work together to put a stop to illegal government surveillance against law-abiding Canadians. OpenMedia.ca has launched a national campaign encouraging Canadians to support a BCCLA legal action which aims to stop illegal spying by challenging the constitutionality of the government’s warrantless collection of data on Canadians’ everyday Internet use.



David Christopher
Communications Manager, OpenMedia.ca
[email protected]

More Information

  • Snowden document shows Canada set up spy posts for NSA. Source: CBC News
  • New Snowden docs show U.S. spied during G20 in Toronto. Source: CBC News
  • Five highlights from the Canada-Brazil spying revelations. Source: The Globe and Mail
  • Privacy watchdog on spy agency’s data collection: ‘We want to find out more’. [Source: The Globe And Mail]
  • Canada’s spy agency may have illegally targeted Canadians: watchdog. [Source: National Post]
  • Inside Canada's top-secret billion-dollar spy palace. [Source: CBC News.]
  • Data breach protocols deficient in 9 federal departments, watchdog finds. - [Source: CBC News]
  • Lawful Access back on the agenda this Fall? - Michael Geist.
  • The secretive CSEC agency has a staff of more than 2,000 and a budget of about $400 million. [Source: CBC News]
  • Surveillance expert Ron Deibert on the threat spy agencies pose for citizens.
  • Internet Law expert Michael Geist on why Canadians should be concerned about government spying.
  • Privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart says there are significant concerns about the scope of information that CSEC are reported to collect. [Source: CBC News]
  • In this article, The Globe and Mail describes the revelations about Canadian government spying as “disturbing and unacceptable”
  • This document, obtained by The Globe through Access to Information, shows how Minister MacKay authorized a top secret program to data-mine global ‘metadata’ in 2011.

OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet. Take action now

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