#CyberFLASH: Watchdog presses Ottawa for strong rules on sharing surveillance data

canada cyber security newsA federal watchdog is urging Ottawa to put strong rules around how it shares its surveillance data, warning that the U.S. National Security Agency and other close allies can put their own intelligence interests first.

Allied intelligence agencies have general agreements not to spy on each other, but the review body for Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE) has reminded Parliament that exceptions exist for every rule.

Every “sovereign nation, can derogate from agreements … as dictated by their own national interests,” wrote Jean-Pierre Plouffe, a retired judge, in his annual report to Parliament last year. The report gives some context to modern surveillance partnerships and the risk of unpredictable uses of shared information.

The risks became clearer this week when The Globe and Mail reported that Rogers Communications Inc. and Royal Bank of Canada are named in a leaked NSA document. The 2012 U.S. intelligence presentation, stamped for sharing with Canada, was describing how intelligence analysts can apply surveillance methods to map out the “private networks” used by global corporations.

The full extent and nature of the NSA’s interest in the Canadian entities, shown as two of 15 firms on a partial list, were not made clear. A Canadian government spokesman reacted to the document by saying that it showed no evidence that any spying activities were “directed” at Canadian entities.

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