#CyberFLASH: Spy agency intercepted, kept 66 communications of Canadians


Ottawa’s foreign-focused electronic spy agency intercepted and retained 66 communications from Canadians last year. The material was gathered, without warrants, in the course of its spying on foreign threats.

This new detail about the privacy-encroaching activities of Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) was disclosed, for the first time, in an annual report from its watchdog agency.

A specific number had never before been released by officials in Ottawa, who had previously characterized CSEC’s collection of Canadian communications as only “small” and “incidental” relative to what it harvests from the wider world.

Intelligence agencies, even ones whose focus is global, are being pushed to operate more transparently as concerns about domestic spying grow. Privacy advocates and even Supreme Court judges have lately been seeking to clarify just how much the Canadian state can access citizens’ communications data.

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