Since the first Snowden revelations earlier this year, there has been much speculation about the use foreign intelligence agencies (such as the NSA) to conduct surveillance on Canadians. While the government is always careful to say that CSEC does not spy on Canadians, many suspect that each of the “five eyes” agencies (the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) do it on their behalf. Yesterday, a federal court judge confirmed the practice as part of a decision that found CSIS “breached its duty of candour to the Court by not disclosing information that was relevant to the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court and to the determination by the Court that the criteria of investigative necessity and the impracticality of other procedures set out in subsection 21 (2) of the CSIS Act had been satisfied.”
The lack of candour appears to arise from the failure to disclose that the CSIS warrants would involve seeking CSEC assistance in requesting foreign interception of Canadian communications:
the Court has determined that the execution of the type of warrants at issue in Canada has been accompanied by requests made by CSEC, on behalf of CSIS, to foreign agencies (members of the â€œFive Eyesâ€ alliance), for the interception of the telecommunications of Canadian persons abroad.
the Court considers it necessary to state that the use of “the assets of the Five Eyes community” is not authorized under any warrant issued to CSIS pursuant to the CSIS Act. The question of whether CSIS may, with the assistance of CSEC, engage the surveillance capabilities of foreign agencies was not raised in the application that resulted in the issuance of the first such warrant or in any subsequent warrants of this type.
The Globe reports it has received records indicating that CSEC receives dozens of these kinds of requests each year from CSIS, the RCMP, CBSA, and National Defence.