#CyberFLASH: Where Canada’s Three Political Parties Stand on Cybersecurity and Surveillance

parliament-hill-2012-jon-fingas-flickrWith just over a week to go until Canada’s federal election, we finally know where each of Canada’s three main political parties stand on surveillance, cybersecurity and privacy.

On Friday, the Conservatives and New Democratic Party (NDP) announced the release of their political platforms, following the release of the Liberal party platform earlier in the week. To varying degrees, each party addressed how their government would handle—or not handle—data breaches, cyberattacks and surveillance run amok.

On the topic of Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada’s spy agency equivalent of the NSA or GCHQ, the NDP have been the most specific, pledging to “end the practice of bulk collection of data as part of cyber surveillance by Canadian agencies.” In recent years, leaked documents have suggested that CSE has operated—and in some cases, still operates—myriad data collection programs around the world, some of which inadvertently collect information about Canadians.

The Liberal party, meanwhile, has pledged to “limit Communications Security Establishment’s powers by requiring a warrant to engage in the surveillance of Canadians.” Currently, only a ministerial authorization is required for CSE to intercept information sent or received by, or about, Canadians.

Both the NDP and Liberal parties also support the formation of an national security oversight committee, while the Conservative party includes no reference whatsoever to Canada’s cyberspy agency in its platform. Julian Fantino, the party’s Associate Minister of National Defence, has previously argued that CSE operates within the law and is not in need of oversight.

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