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Michael Geist's Blog

Report Confirms Canada Has Its Own Phone Meta-Data and Internet Surveillance Program

Over the weekend, I posted a lengthy piece on why Canadians should be demanding answers about secret surveillance programs in the wake of the U.S. revelations about Verizon meta-data on all phone calls and the PRISM program that involves access to leading Internet company data. The focus of the piece was on Canadian law, as it argued that many of the same powers exist under Canadian law and that it is likely that Canadians have been caught up by these surveillance activities.

This morning, the Globe and Mail reports that Canada indeed has its own secret surveillance program that similarly targets telephone records and Internet data.  The Globe report indicates that Defence Minister Peter MacKay granted approval to the program in November 2011.  The program is unsurprisingly operated by the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) and the records feature much of the same language found in the U.S., focusing on meta-data rather than content (see here and here for why meta-data may be more revealing) as well as focusing on foreign communications (but acknowledging that Canadians may be swept up in the process).

My post closed with the following questions:

Does this mean Canadian authorities are engaged in similar forms of surveillance? That phone companies such as Bell and Telus are subject to warrants similar to those faced by Verizon? That Internet companies co-operate with Canadian authorities? That Canadian and U.S. authorities share information obtained through programs such as the Verizon meta-data program or PRISM? That Canadians are targeted by the U.S. programs?

We now know the answer to the first question.  We need answers to the rest.
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