Friday, May 12, 2006

Dial "N" for NSA

According to USA Today (Leslie Cauley, "NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls," USA Today, 11 May 2006), "network analysis" is indeed the big secret (see previous discussion of this possibility here and here): NSA is apparently doing traffic analysis on virtually the entire US telephone network.

You can bet that they and their SIGINT allies are also doing the same sort of analysis on as much of the rest of the world's communications as they can reach. Which again raises the question, is Canadian telephone data also being analyzed? I don't know, but what happens at NSA often happens at CSE, so I'd still like to know whether similar data-gathering and mining would be legal in Canada and, if so, whether such mining is in fact being done.

Update: 12 May 2006
There are a couple of comments on the possibility of similar data-mining in Canada in the Globe and Mail today (Paul Koring, "Tracking of calls sparks furor in U.S.," Globe and Mail, 12 May 2006).

Update: 13 May 2006
No Such Activity, sez CSE (James Gordon, "Our phone calls not being tracked, spy agency says," CanWest News Service, 13 May 2006).

Update: 12 June 2006
Nonetheless, they are collecting enough of some kind of data somewhere to justify the hiring of additional employees to improve the agency's ability to "mine" it. CSE is currently "looking for people with the following qualifications: ... Experience in the development, testing and evaluation of new techniques to advance data mining, data enrichment, social network analysis and analytical discovery applications" (see Career Opportunities: Information Exploitation Analysts on the CSE website).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone out there have tips for someone taking the first round CSE tests? i'm going in as a linguist... will they throw a lot of logic related puzzles at me? what kind of stuff?

June 10, 2006 9:50 am  
Blogger Bill Robinson said...

I've never worked there or even applied there, so this is just a guess, but I would assume that if the job you're seeking is purely a translation/transcription job then the focus will be on language skills, but if the job includes analytical elements, for example a Foreign Language Intelligence Analyst position, then you can expect something that also covers current affairs knowledge, international relations, and general analytical skills, e.g., logic puzzles. Check out the Canadian Foreign Service Exam for a possible model:

June 12, 2006 5:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i took the tests a while ago. i have to say that i'm impressed by the CSE. the first round of tests is multiple choice - i don't really want to talk about the content in detail, because i'm not sure if it's ok. i remember them being very insistent that they would not give me advance info about the tests by e-mail, only by phone. anyway, they start off everyone (at least everyone who is going in for something non-technical) with a round of multiple choice tests that test your logical reasoning, reading comp., verbal intelligence skills. these tests are general filtering out tests. i prepared for this stuff by just doing some GRE tests and even IQ puzzles (that was unnecessary). if you pass the first round, you go on to do a writing exercise. the tests aren't like the Foreign Service Exam (which is standard Public Service Commission stuff) but doing their practice exams can also help, i'm sure. after the first round and after the writing skills type test, whoever is going in for linguist type stuff gets a language test - written and listening. you're allowed to bring in dictionaries. it's pretty neat. let's just say that the CSE people really seem to be on top of their game in the language department. there were people from very diverse backgrounds there. europe, asia and the middle east were all represented. i really like the way our country works - quietly but efficiently.

July 04, 2006 3:56 am  
Blogger Bill Robinson said...

Thanks for the feedback, OBT! Nice to have someone who knows what he or she's talking about (as opposed to me) posting at the blog.

July 04, 2006 11:47 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who calls Canada often from various places in Southeast Asia, it's been suggested to me by a number of embassy workers that calls home could be monitored. Canada is not immune from the privacy-stripping terror measures... we just have sunset clauses, in some cases.

October 30, 2006 4:35 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took the CSEs exams last's exactly as the user "onbusinesstrip" says below..but they were tough. The English ones and logic were not easy..the IT was easy. I'm sure after this, they probably take the top 5% of people, coz of the 20 people who were writing it, only a few stayed behind, most left after getting their results.

Toronto, Dec 2007.

December 14, 2007 7:06 pm  

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