Friday, November 04, 2016

Another spy agency caught illegally hoarding metadata

The Canadians aren't just spying on journalists. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has been caught illegally hoarding metadata:

A Federal Court judge says Canada's spy agency illegally kept potentially revealing electronic data about people over a 10-year period.

In a hard-hitting ruling made public Thursday, Justice Simon Noel said the Canadian Security Intelligence Service breached its duty to inform the court of its data-collection program, since the information was gathered using judicial warrants.

CSIS should not have retained the information since it was not directly related to threats to the security of Canada, the ruling said.

"Ultimately, the rule of law must prevail," Noel wrote, adding, "without it, the actions of people and institutions cannot be trusted to accurately reflect the purpose they were entrusted to fulfil."

There's shades of GCHQ here, which was recently found to have spied illegally on the public for 17 years. And it really makes you wonder whether the New Zealand SIS or GCSB are doing the same thing here. Five Eyes agencies share techniques and strategies, and if one has been doing something for a long time, its a good bet that the others are too. Clearly there's a consensus among the Five Eyes that mass domestic metadata surveillance is a useful counter-terrorism tool. But our Parliament has never approved such a thing, and it seems to go well beyond the particularised suspicion the warrant mechanism has been sold to us on. I think we need some assurances that our intelligence agencies are not doing this. And if they won't give such assurances, we can only conclude that they are guilty and need to be shut down.