Limits to Secrecy: Where Does the CSE Intercept Canadians’ Internet Communications?
Forthcoming in the collection, National Security Intelligence and Surveillance in a Big Data Age, UBC Press, edited by David Lyon and David Murakami Wood. While comments are most welcome, please do not cite or quote without first contacting the author.
32 Pages Posted: 11 May 2018
Date Written: April 26, 2018
This preview chapter seeks to contribute to the growing debate in Canada over mass state surveillance by shedding light on key aspects of Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE) domestic internet surveillance activities. Drawing mainly on the Snowden documents, it argues that there are good reasons to suspect that CSE is routinely intercepting the internet communications of millions of Canadians. A further exploratory analysis of Canadian internet traceroute data estimates where and with which carriers CSE is most likely to capture internet traffic. This analysis shows that by accessing the main switching centres of a handful of leading telecom providers (e.g. Bell, Rogers, Shaw, Telus) CSE could surveil a large fraction of Canadians’ internet communications by establishing interception facilities within a few key cities (notably Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver). This chapter draws attention as well to CSE’s excessive secrecy about its domestic internet surveillance capabilities and concludes by calling on CSE to meet its obligations to respect human rights and democratic norms by being more transparent and accountable to Canadians.
Keywords: surveillance, big data, signals intelligence, national security
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