While watchdog groups, activists, and everyday citizens are speaking out about the NSA's domestic surveillance programs in the U.S., it turns out that our neighbors to the north have one of their own engaging in very similar activities. The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association claims that the Attorney General of Canada violated the country's Constitution by authorizing CSEC to intercept emails, telephone calls, text messages, and other data using the country's anti-terrorism act. The Civil Liberties Association has sued the government in B.C. Supreme Court.
Under the terms of Canada's Anti-Terrorism Act, which was rolled into the National Defence Act, the Minister of National Defence "may authorize CSEC to intercept private communications for two purposes: for obtaining foreign intelligence or for protecting the computer systems or networks of the Government of Canada from mischief, unauthorized use or interference," according to a complaint filed by the group.
The lawsuit alleges that the secretive agency is tasked with "national electronic intelligence gathering ... and is charged with collecting signals intelligence, which includes the covert acquisition and processing of foreign electronic communications for the purpose of advancing Canadian interests in defence, security and international affairs."
The group also alleges that this group shares the data it collects with intelligence agencies in other countries like the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia and works closely with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The group goes on to say in its filing that the defense minister allegedly issued or renewed authorizations for interceptions nearly 60 times in the last decade.
The Civil Liberties Association says that this activity violates Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms which promises the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and the right to freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.
Source: Courthouse News