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New Snowden Documents reveal the Canadian government partnered in illegal spying on Canadian soil

Canadians are demanding action after shocking revelations show how out-of-control spy agency CSEC is damaging democracy at home and Canada’s relationships abroad

Experts have already suggested that CSEC's authorization of U.S. spying activities on Canadian soil was illegal. "If CSEC tasked NSA to conduct spying activities on Canadians within Canada that CSEC itself was not authorized to take, then I am comfortable saying that would be an unlawful undertaking by CSEC," says Professor Craig Forcese, an expert in national security at University of Ottawa's faculty of law.

Last month OpenMedia.ca joined with the BC Civil Liberties Association to announce a lawsuit alleging that CSEC spying is illegal and unconstitutional. OpenMedia.ca has also been working with over 40 major Canadian organizations in the Protect our Privacy Coalition to demand effective legal measures to safeguard Canadians’ privacy from government spies.

“Many Canadians watching the news tonight will be shocked to discover just how secretive, expensive, and out-of-control our government’s spying activities are,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “These documents show clearly how this government enabled U.S. spying on Canadian soil. It’s also clear this spying was aimed at supporting U.S. policy goals during a highly contentious summit - this is sure to cause huge damage to Canada’s relationships with our other G-20 partners.”

Mr Anderson continued: “Under cover of near-total secrecy, CSEC is engaging in activities that most reasonable-minded Canadians find reprehensible. Taxpayers are spending billions on an agency that is undermining democracy here at home, while deeply damaging Canada’s international reputation as a fair and honest partner.”

“It’s time for the government to come clean with Canadians and for our federal privacy commissioner to pay greater attention to its obligations under the Privacy Act - including how government entities handle sensitive citizen data. Between facilitating reckless and likely illegal spying in Toronto, to shamefully using children to push their new online spying legislation, it’s clear that this government is completely out of touch with Canadians on the issue of personal privacy.”

CSEC has over 2000 employees and an annual budget of over $420 million. Taxpayers are spending over $4 billion to build and operate a lavish new CSEC headquarters, which the CBC has described as a “spy palace” and as “the most expensive government building ever built”.

Over 10,000 people have pledged their support to a BCCLA court challenge which aims to stop all illegal spying on Canadians, with more signing on every day at https://openmedia.ca/csec

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

  • 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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