Friday, November 29, 2013

Canadian spies broke the law

Today's NSALeak: the Canadian Communications Security Establishment allowed the NSA to spy on the 2010 G8 and G20 summits in Canada:

Top secret documents retrieved by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden show that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government allowed the largest American spy agency to conduct widespread surveillance in Canada during the 2010 G8 and G20 summits.

The documents are being reported exclusively by CBC News.

The briefing notes, stamped "Top Secret," show the U.S. turned its Ottawa embassy into a security command post during a six-day spying operation by the National Security Agency while U.S. President Barack Obama and 25 other foreign heads of government were on Canadian soil in June of 2010.

The spying was to "provid[e] support to policymakers" - that is, spy on other parties negotiating positions to advantage the US (and presumably Canada, though who knows?)

The head of CESC says that he does "not ask [partners] to perform actions that is against the law for me to perform in Canada". But he also says that "CSEC, under its legislation, cannot target Canadians anywhere in the world or anyone in Canada, including visitors to Canada". So we have two options: either CESC invited the NSA to set up temporary listening posts on Canadian territory to spy on Martians, or they broke the law. And the fact that they refuse to answer when asked whether they got a warrant for the NSA to spy tells us all we need to know.

Intercepting communications without a warrant is of course illegal in Canada. So the head of CESC and everyone who negotiated this sordid deal should be going to jail for conspiracy.

(There's no obvious question about GCSB behaviour here because they are allowed to spy on non-New Zealanders within New Zealand, so they don't need to invite foreign spies in to circumvent the law. But its an illustration of the mindset of the Five Eyes spies that they see their own governing legislation as something to be circumvented rather than obeyed).